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Nightengale students learn to be safe, responsible, respectful

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MASSENA - Nightengale Elementary School students spent Friday afternoon moving from station to station at the school, but the message was clear no matter where they sat.

Be safe.

Be responsible.

Be respectful.

It was the school’s introduction to students in grades one through five of the basic fundamentals of the Nightengale Elementary Behavior System, or NEBS for short, their 2013-14 variation on the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program.

Stations were set up around the school, where PBIS team members talked about proper behavior in the cafeteria, hallway, playground, and during assemblies and dismissal. Team members include Principal Shannon Jordan, Johnathan Hirschey, Ashley Neal, Esther Nemier, Amanda Taraska, Kerry Perretta, Kathy Mailhot, Shelley Carroll, Brandon Downs, Matt Brabaw, Jennifer Gray, Jeffrey Slack and William Lint.

“They spend about 15 minutes in different areas in and out of the building. They learn how to be safe, responsible and respectful. We’re teaching and recognizing positive behavior,” Ms. Jordan said.

In the cafeteria, Ms. Carroll talked to the groups about proper behavior in that area of the school. Her topics included voice levels. The school uses Level 0 to mean no talking, Level 1 to mean whisper, Level 2 to mean speaking voice and Level 3 to mean outside voice.

“How many of you don’t like loud sounds and they hurt your ears?” she asked, suggesting that they could talk among their friends at the table, but not at a voice level that was disturbing to others in the cafeteria.

“You have to be respectful,” Ms. Carroll said.

The students were also encouraged to be patient and courteous, waiting their turn with the cafeteria staff. The school uses the “YIPS” of “thank you,” “hello or hi,” “excuse me,” “you’re welcome,” “I’m sorry,” “please” and “smile.”

“They can’t get to everybody at the same time. You have to be patient and wait your turn,” she said, also emphasizing saying “please” and “thank you.”

“When the lunch lady gives you a tray, what would be a nice thing to say?” Ms. Carroll asked the students.

“Thank you,” they replied.

Ms. Carroll nodded affirmatively.

“They like that,” she said.

In an area of the school labeled as “Compassion Court,” third- and fourth-grade students were learning about hallway etiquette that included keeping their space, walking with their eyes forward and their hands at their sides, and using a voice level of 0 and following adult instructions during a fire drill.

“You don’t know if it’s a real fire or practice. We want to keep our eyes in front of us,” school psychologist Clare Mackenzie-Mauch told the students.

“Make sure your eyes are forward. We have to make sure we’re watching to the teachers so we know where to go,” school counselor Christine Winston added.

Down the hallway, in a section called Perseverance Avenue, Ms. Mailhot was sharing the same message with students in grades five and six.

“Walk at a normal pace so your class is all together. Keep your hands and feet to yourself,” she said, reminding them to use Voice Level 0 as they made their way down the hall.

“You have to set for the example for the kids that are younger than you,” Ms. Mailhot said.

She also encouraged the students to keep their hands free from the walls, where student-created art would be hanging during the school year.

“We don’t want to crunch anything because it’s work that you created,” she said.

Mr. Hirschey was meeting with students in the gymnasium to talk about assembly etiquette and, at the end of his presentation he asked the students to form lines as he had talked about, making it a competition between three classes. They stood up in a straight line, quiet and hands at their sides.

“I think it officially has to be a tie because you can’t get any more perfect than that,” he said.

Other students, meanwhile, were outside listening to Mr. Lint talk about bus and dismissal etiquette.

“The first thing you have to do is be prepared on time,” he said. “When you’re leaving your classroom and heading down the hallway, what’s the key word?”

“Walk,” the students answered correctly.

What students learned on Friday will be reinforced during the year through a number of avenues, including posters that will be displayed in common areas.

And there’s a reward awaiting those who excel at following the rules.

Students will be eligible for “Nightengale Nickels,” which teachers can give for displaying positive behavior. Drawings will be held weekly, and one student per classroom will be selected as a “Noble Nighthawk.”

The school also plans to have a celebration every 10 weeks for students who have no office discipline referrals, Ms. Jordan said. One referral will cause a student to miss the celebration and attend a “re-teach session” during the event.

Friday’s kick-off was for students in grades one through six. Students in junior kindergarten and kindergarten, who will be holding their first full day of classes on Monday, will receive the same presentation next week, one station per day.

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