Setting The Bar High At The High School Harvard
Written by Nia Henderson, an AmeriCorps Member serving on the Sea Best Team at William M. Raines High School.
Every morning, promptly at 7:10am, Principal Hall’s voice emits into the air at William M. Raines High School. He initiates the day with encouraging words and life lessons that are applicable to students and adults alike. “Achievement: The Raines Experience” along with "Setting the Bar High at The High School Harvard" have been the themes for the school year. These sayings are not just empty slogans, all of the teachers, faculty, staff and City Year team, work to instill this level of excellence in our students.
City Year's Whole School Whole Child model focuses on supporting students with their ABC's (Attendance, Behavior, and Course Performance) which are all indicators of high school graduation. Recently, we planned two initiatives that have helped to encourage and recognize student excellence in these areas. For the first initiative, we decided to focus on promoting Attendance with a "Red-Hot Raffle". The Red-Hot Raffle is designed as a positive reinforcement for students who come to school on time, by rewarding them for displaying excellence by being punctual and in school. In the morning, we take attendance and students who are on time sign their names on red raffle tickets. At the end of the day we put all of the tickets in a jar, and each month we shake it up and choose three to four raffle tickets from the jar. We congratulate these students with goodie bags filled with candy, school supplies, a motivational message of encouragement, and an over-the-top announcement made by City Year in the morning. The Red-Hot Raffle’s mission is: to encourage students to attend school regularly, to motivate students to arrive to school on time, to inspire students to look forward to attending their classes, and to promote positivity through the motivational messages.
The second initiative we started is the 9th Grade Hall of Fame; this initiative focuses on all of the components of the City Year's service model, looking at students' progress holistically. The mission of the 9th Grade Hall of Fame is to celebrate the students who consistently perform in the classroom, have great relationships with their teachers and peers, and makes every effort to attend class every day. The best part of this initiative is that the students are nominated by their very own teachers! Each teacher that City Year partners with is given a nomination slip during the last week of each month and at the end of the day we collect all of the nominations slips and as a team we review and discuss the nominations to determine which two out of the twelve students will be accepted in our 9th Grade Hall of Fame. The 9th Grade Hall of Fame is displayed outside of our City Year room located in the 9th grade hallway where students can walk by and see themselves and their peers celebrated for their efforts.
As City Year AmeriCorps Members, we spend much of our time and focus on students who are off track, those who are not performing as well as they should be or who need extra support in a specfiic area. However, it is just as important for us to continue to highlight student successes and encourage students who are doing great things in and outside of the classroom. We are looking forward to seeing more students continue to achieve excellence in the second half of the school year.