More than just fun and games

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2010

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – For most, the Olympics are a distant memory, but not at Emily C. Watkins Elementary School in LaPlace, where students participated in the Lion Pride Mini-Olympics on Friday.

The games were part of the statewide Positive Behavior Support program, which according to its Web site “is the application of evidence-based strategies and systems to assist schools to increase academic performance, increase safety, decrease problem behavior and establish positive school cultures.” In other words, it is a disciplinary system that emphasizes rewarding students for good behavior rather than punishing them for bad behavior.

And at Watkins positive behavior means exhibiting P.R.I.D.E., which in this case is an acronym for positive, respectful, incredibly safe, dependable and eager to learn. Students’ behavior is assessed monthly, and only those who earn 90 percent or higher may participate in PBS activities.

For the Lion Pride Mini-Olympics, the classes on each grade level competed against each other in five events — the paper plate discus throw, the straw javelin throw, the Olympic ring toss, the dictionary relay and the Olympic motto word hunt.

There was also an academic aspect to Friday’s proceedings. Prior to the games, each class chose a country they would portray. The students in the class learned about the language and culture of their chosen country, and each class decorated their door accordingly.

The decorated doors were judged schoolwide, and Ruth Pickle’s first-grade class’ Ireland-themed door took top honors. Also placing in the door contest were: Heather Reese’s fifth-grade class for their Egypt-themed door; Sally Goodman’s fourth-grade class for their Vietnam-themed door; and Rachel Chaney and Grant Thomas’ fifth-grade class for their South Africa-themed door.

PBS is a statewide program, and all public schools in St. John the Baptist Parish participate and hold periodic PBS reward days.