Steamboat Springs Middle School students who want a new book or a Camelbak water container had better start behaving themselves.
With the advent of a new school store to reinforce the code of conduct, the currency of good behavior has become the standard throughout the school.
Seventh-grader Jasper Good earned 10 good behavior cards by picking up trash in the arcade, turning his assignments in on time and showing other signs of good behavior. With those cards, he was able to pick out a soccer ball from the school store.
Jan DePuy, a parent of sixth-grader Nathan, said she and fellow parent, Beth Wendler, helped open the store in January at the request of teachers working to implement a Positive Behavior System in the school.
"It's been overwhelming. They've been so excited about it. They stop by every time we're open," she said.
The store is open three days a week with a parent volunteer working the till. Some items are available for sale - school supplies and smaller prizes - while the bigger gifts are available only with reward cards.
The middle school was the first school in the district to implement the PBS system, now a standard across the district.
In mid-2005, assistant principal Jerry Buelter learned about the program at a conference. When he returned, he encouraged other staff members to check out the program and eventually adopted it in the school.
"We needed to sell this to the staff," he said. The PBS program recommended at least 80 percent of the staff to choose to use the program. Buelter said the school had closer to 90 or 95 percent.
Once the school decided to accept the program they were asked to come up with a list of three to five behaviors important to the school.
The middle school chose safety, self-control, responsibility and respect as the core values. Now any teacher in the school can hand out cards to students showing those characteristics.
The school has also invited parents into the school for "blitzes" to reinforce behavior. On those days, parents are given a stack of cards and sent to the halls to "catch" kids being good, Buelter said.
DePuy said the parents also take the chance to quiz kids on the code.
"(We give cards to) students who are walking, talking with a quiet voice in the arcade. Quite often what we'll do is approach a student and ask them to give an example of respect they've exhibited," she said.
The prizes given to students are mostly donated from local businesses Old Town Hot Springs slide passes, board games, gloves and other items but some are purchased. One of the most popular items, and something that caught the eye of seventh-grader Erik Halsnes, is the iTunes gift card, redeemable for music from the online iTunes store.
"I love them so much, I want them," Erik said as he tried to buy the sold-out cards.
The store is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week and will continue through the rest of the school year, said DePuy.
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