Friendships are golden at Sauk Trail
Gold as a precious metal may be selling for more than $1,700 an ounce these days, but at Sauk Trail Elementary, golden friendships are precious and priceless.
A program of creating and valuing friendships among students is underway as part of Sauk Trail's PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support) initiative.
“Golden is the best you can reach for, as we encourage all of our kids to make good friends,” Sauk Trail counselor Mary Adamavich said. “The whole concept of that is based upon how we all need to be respectful, responsible, be a learner, be safe. This ties into friendship as we talk about how students can be responsible and respectful friends, to stay friends, and to be caring to others.”
If a friendship needs to be established or nurtured, students are urged to talk about what being a good friend is.
“If there is a problem, we get the kids to talk it out, using those words, and what it means to be a friend,” teacher Julie Kauper said. “We have a monthly series of Love and Logic assemblies scheduled where 5th graders role-model appropriate behavior and show what's expected of everyone. Teachers carry that theme back to the classrooms where they talk to the kids about how they are friends and share ways in which they are friends. We keep the theme alive all year.”
In the school's lobby, a bulletin board displays photos of each class and serves as a reminder that friendships are valuable commodities. In classrooms, kids sit in a circle and share ways in which they are friends.
“When students hear the language and know the expectations, they reach out more to each other in the right way,” Kauper said.
Proof of the program's success is seen in the hallways.
“Kids are walking, not running, and talking to and helping others,” Adamavich said. “I've noticed a definite shift in behaviors. On the playground, we had a student new to the school try to grab a ball away from another. 'We don't do that at Sauk Trail — you need to ask for the ball,' one of the other students said, and the behavior changed instantly.”
“Students get that we have a culture here and an expectation for behavior,” she added.
Sauk Trail staff originated a series of PBIS/Love and Logic assembly skits and shares their ideas and programs with other district elementary schools.
-- By Tom Kobinsky