Learning ‘The Waupaca Way’
Chain students’ posters promote positive values
By Angie Landsverk
Chain O’ Lakes Elementary students are being encouraged to take “The Waupaca Way” home with them.
This is the first year the school is implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
“We are halfway through our first year of implementing PBIS at Chain Elementary. We share the same goal as the rest of the district (and now the city, too). We live The Waupaca Way: responsible, respectful, safe and prepared,” said Rhonda Hare, who is the school’s principal.
PBIS is a national, research-based program which involves developing a common language and also common consequences for behavior.
Several years ago, Waupaca Learning Center became the first school in the Waupaca School District to implement the program.
The school identified the four values of being respectful, responsible, safe and prepared as what it wanted to focus on at the school.
When the 2015-16 school year began, those values began to be referred to as “The Waupaca Way” throughout the school district.
The move also includes the common Comets mascot and school colors for all of the schools.
At the Chain School, Lori Christian, the school’s support teacher, is taking on the role of coordinating PBIS efforts there.
“It’s so valuable,” she said. “The kids are learning so much.”
During the first four months of the school year, the staff and students centered on one different value each month.
When the students returned to school on Jan. 4, they learned about the school’s Waupaca Way Poster Contest.
The idea was to see what the students learned during those first four months of the school year.
“The one requirement was they had to do it at home,” Christian said. “They had to volunteer their time. They didn’t have to. We just encouraged them to.”
Information was sent home with the students that school day, and the deadline to return their posters was Jan. 15.
In all, there were 67 entries, with the judging taking place by grade level.
“So, there is one winner in each grade level,” Christian said.
The winners were 4K student Makieyela Raisler, kindergartner Katie Johnson, first grader Lucy Rogers and second grader Alisa Forseth.
Most of them said their mothers helped them come up with ideas for their posters.
Each of the winners received a gift certificate for a free pizza, bread, sauce and 2-liter beverage from D.J. Maus, owner of Little Caesars Pizza in Waupaca.
Maus already works with Waupaca Middle School, so when he was approached about providing prizes for the Chain School’s poster contest, his answer was, “Of course. Yes.”
The four winners will now be able to treat their families to dinner, and their winning entries will be on display at Little Caesars Pizza until about the end of the school year.
The other entries are currently on display in a hallway at the school.
“I am honored to recognize students and staff who are leading by example. The winners were chosen not only on artistic appeal but also on their ability to show what The Waupaca Way means,” Hare said. “We are so grateful for community support and thank Little Caesars for donating prizes.”
While the poster contest resulted in recognition for individual students, the school’s other efforts center on all-school rewards at the end of each month.
Students receive stars when staff members notice them remembering the core values.
Those stars are ultimately displayed, so students may watch the number of them increase on their way to an all-school goal.
“With a small school and community feeling here, it works,” Christian said of the idea to provide all-school incentives instead of individual ones.
The end-of-the-month rewards included a kickball tournament, movie, dance and an additional recess.
“We met as a staff at the beginning of the year. Everyone had their own ideas. We collaborated,” Christian said.
Since they talk to the students about showing the same character traits throughout the community, the poster contest was a way to take “The Waupaca Way” home to the families, she said.
Parents may visit the school’s website at www.waupaca.k12.wi.us/ch/ to learn which trait the staff and students are currently addressing.