November is the time for the annual food drive at Bruin Point Elementary. While it is part of an annual ritual it also ties into the theme of the school this year, which is kindness.
“The students are building a tower of food out of what they bring from home,” said Principal Dina Wise. “The class that brings the most food will get a class party.
The food will be used to help a family that is local to the East Carbon area.
Recently the parent liaison retired from the school and her responsibilities have been divided between Samie Howell the secretary and John Bain who is a music specialist and intervention aide at the school.
“John has taken over the student leadership and he has run with it,” said Wise. “The presidency is now acting as a presidency and he has fired the student leadership up.”
On Veterans Day the school honored three veterans from the area (LaRoy Erickson, Philip Pendleton and Bob Wells). This year Bain asked if the school could do a flag retiring ceremony and that was done out on the school grounds. As the flags were retired, student government representatives presented a history of the American flag and what the students saw being done was the proper way to retire the banners. The veterans stood inside the building and as the students came back in from the flag retirement they shook hands with the kids.
The school also held their second family night of the year on the Monday before Thanksgiving.
“It’s wasn’t a turkey dinner (ham was the main fare) but it was a nice sit down dinner with kids and their parents,” stated Wise. “Afterward we shared information about our school improvement plan and some of the things we are doing different concerning behavior at school. Then we had game night with Bingo and other games.”
This year behavior at school is a big topic of interest and it ties right in with the being kind emphasis.
The school has created a flow chart that shows what happens when students have problems, at what point a problem is handled in the classroom or the office and when parents will be called in concerning the situation.
“We spent time telling parents about this so they know what has gone on before they get a phone call,” explained Wise. “We also want them to understand that we are celebrating good behavior as well.”
Wise said the point of all the work on behavior is to build a strong school family, one that will teach kids to use their executive mind and not their emotional mind when dealing with others, particularly when there is conflict. It’s all about listening in particular, working out problems with others and then letting the conflict go.
Bruin Point has had a morning meeting with all the kids in the lunchroom each day for a long time. Wise said this year they have upped that meeting and sing a school family song each day. The get together includes a lot of good feelings, waving at each other and smiling.
“Doing that really changes the wiring in peoples brains,” stated Wise. “People need to have connection, unity, touch and a playful situation. You can just see the kids connecting with each other.”
She said the main concentration at the school this year is along with kindness, is safety and being helpful to others.
Wise also talked about the Smart Goals that the students have set. Those goals vary from student to student. The school had a celebration at the end of the first quarter concerning those goals.
Once the students had established their goals, they were divided up into mixed age groups. They are assigned a teacher who helps them to share their successes and then they lead cheers supporting each other. Wise said it has had a profound effect on certain students, some of which used to be caught in a shell and didn’t like school, but now do.
“What we have done this year is to connect the students with other students,’ said Wise. “Last year we spent a lot of time connecting the adults in the building to kids. This year it is with each other.
The celebrations varied from student to student.
“Some kids celebrated that they went up three reading levels. For others it was that they made it to school every day, and still others worked to be kind and helpful,” she said.
The students know that every adult in the building is a “safe keeper” which means that they are there to protect and help the students.
Recently the Creede Repertory Theater came and did a performance at the school. The message they delivered tied right into the things the school is attempting to teach students about how to treat other people.
“It was interactive because they talk right to the kids during the performance,” stated Wise. “One actor asked kids what they do when they are scared or nervous and they told the students that they should be a star and smile. The whole audience was with them.”
The move towards kindness and cooperation moves students to be more productive and they see that good behavior leads to good things.
“It has worked wonders, joining the kids together like this. It’s a lot harder to be mean to someone when you know them,” she concluded.