Kick Back with Pizza, Popcorn and NCAA Basketball

2016.03.03_ClarkCompass

The class with the lowest tardy rate in March will be rewarded

By Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief

With the March Madness basketball tournament about to begin, the WBHS Compass program hopes to ignite excitement for its own March Madness. 

March Attendance Madness will kick off on Friday during the Compass resource time lesson. Reducing tardies and unexcused absences during first hour will be the focus of the tournament. Every month the Compass team, which is dedicated to promoting positive behaviors, sets out to promote similar lessons during resource time.

Compass“Because of March Madness, we thought it would be kind of fun to set up a bracket between different classes, and we are going to focus on tardiness just to first period, so just one thing,” said Skip Clark, science teacher and Compass team member.

Each round of the bracket will be a three-day period, the first round taking place March 7-9. For example, the first round will be East freshmen vs. East seniors, and the winner of that round will move on to compete against the winner of East juniors vs. East sophomores. The winner of each round will be the class with the fewest tardies/unexcused absences during first hour. The final round will occur March 15-17 with the winning class from East going head to head against the winning class from West.

The Compass team hopes to announce the winning class on the final day of the bracket, Thursday, March 17.  The winners will then be given a championship ticket during resource time.

On Friday, March 18, the championship ticket will grant the winners exclusive access to the “Championship Lounge” in the Silver Linings Art Center.  Big screen televisions will show the March Madness NCAA tournament and snacks will be available, including pizza and popcorn. This will be open to members of the winning class during any free periods (lunch, study hall, off hour, etc).

“With Compass we do the lessons every month, but we also look at all of the office referrals, and when we look at our data, over 2,000 of the entries are for kids being late to class or late to school,” said Sarah Ruiz, foreign language teacher and Compass team member.

“In the past our number one problem has been insubordination, basically behavioral problems in the classroom, and that has gone down. Our number one referral or our number one problem we are having in our school right now is tardiness to class, specifically to first hour,” said Clark. Insubordination accounts for only about 300 of the office referral entries, according to Ruiz.  Just in the month of January, Ruiz said that over 400 students were late to school at least once.

“We are hoping that the juniors and seniors are going to say ‘we don’t want to lose to the freshmen and sophomores, we are going to try to get to school on time,'” Clark said.

“When we look at our data, over 2,000 of the entries are for kids being late to class or late to school.”
– Sara Ruiz, Compass team member

Ruiz said that other schools in the district have implemented similar incentive programs regarding attendance.  For example, after a goal was met by McLane Elementary students, students were brought to the auditorium to watch High School Musical as a reward.

“Our ultimate goal is to get to an all-school incentive and we would be doing that in the fourth quarter. So this is kind of easing our way in and saying we are looking into year referrals. We want to see if we can change some habits,” Clark said.  “That’s what tardiness is, a habit. What it boils down to is getting up five minutes earlier.”

The Compass team hopes to set up an all-school initiative in which a goal is set (reducing tardiness for example) and the whole school either wins a prize or does not based on if the goal is met.  “It might be we are going to reduce all referrals by 10% fourth quarter,” Clark said.  The Compass team may also take ideas from students for realistic prizes such as a field day.

Clark said that the Compass team has visited other schools with all-school initiatives that have succeeded in reducing issues such as attendance or insubordination. “What they did is they got the whole school behind it, it took a couple of years, but they said we are all going to get behind something,” Clark said about schools that have implemented PBIS incentive programs.

Both Clark and Ruiz highlighted similar reasons students give as to why they are late for school.  “In my conversations with kids, I think for the upperclassmen the change from starting at 7:26 to now 7:20, no one starts going to school six minutes earlier. Also there is a lot more traffic in the morning than there was last year. People complain about the back up going all the way down to the Jiffy Stop, or some people will say that their siblings are not ready,” Ruiz said.

When asked how tardiness affects her class, Ruiz said, “It’s annoying because they are interrupting class when they come in, and I have to check do you have a pass, do you not have a pass, are you excused, are you unexcused, I have to re-do my attendance, then I have to catch them up to what we are doing… and I feel like I have to start class a second time.”

(Top image: Skip Clark, science teacher and Compass team member, steers attention to a Compass poster. Photograph by Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief.)

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