Steamboat Springs "Knowing the code" at Steamboat Springs Middle School isn't about unlocking a new video game level or deciphering the complex social code of school life.
"It's safety, self-control, respect and responsibility," sixth-grader Meg O'Connell said.
The code, which basic life training teacher Ann Keating dubbed "s-squared and r-squared," is the foundation of the Positive Behavior Support program that addresses ways to achieve positive social and learning outcomes while preventing problem behavior.
"In every setting in our whole school we have behavior expectations," Keating said. "The bottom line is, we want to support the large percentage of kids that are behaving and following directions. We want to support this group by doing interventions with the other groups."
Keating said the school has a referral system for parents and administrators to identify kids who are not exhibiting the characteristics of the code.
"It is a fabulous program and it makes sense in teaching behavior," she said. "We teach academics - let's teach them how to behave."
The program has clearly defined violation levels, which are classified as green, yellow and red. Each has predetermined interventions.
A green violation, such as tardiness to class or littering, results in an in-class intervention. A yellow violation, such as rock throwing, faking a signature or skipping class, typically results in a referral to a "second chance" program that asks students to complete self-reflection assignments. A red violation, such as drugs or weapons, results in immediate administrative referral.
"The idea is to get that intervention in right away," said Keating, who noted that part of the program is to recognize positive behavior, such as using appropriate voice levels, playing safely or washing hands in the bathroom.
As a reward for their behavior during the first two weeks of school, where students received a red "Know the Code" card for positive acts, students were treated to a visit by Steamboat's small-town celebrity camel, Larry.
"It was an all-school reward where the principals joined in and wore genie outfits all day," she said. "Even those way-too-cool eighth-grade boys were like, 'Can I pet the camel?'"
O'Connell said she's done her best to keep her voice down to ensure Larry's visit.
"Sometimes everybody is talking a whole lot, and I'm kinda one of them," she said. "But I've seen Larry before, and I've kissed him and petted him, so I was excited he was coming."
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