BROOKSVILLE — West Hernando Middle School students call themselves the Eagles. This year, there is added significance to the school mascot's name. It's being used to encourage students to do their best. Their objectives:
• Engage in learning.
• Act with kindness.
• Give respect to all.
• Lead in a positive way.
• Expect academic success.
• Serve others.
The new motto is part of the school's Positive Behavior Support, or PBS, program. It isn't new, but the motto and another aspect of the program are.
Exceptional student education teachers Laura Scott and Vicki Eng are part of the PBS team that attended three days of training to improve the program. The motto is something they hope students can remember and live by.
Previously, the Positive Behavior Support program did just what it says — supported positive behavior. This year, academic success is also addressed. Students are encouraged with rewards to avoid discipline referrals and pass all of their classes.
The rewards are quarterly treats. In the past, those have included an ice cream social, a pizza party, fun on a water slide and a performance by the Central High School thespians. This year, the first reward was an ice cream social.
New this year, though, is another incentive, an idea of former West Hernando assistant principal Lori Lessley, who's now at Springstead High.
"We surveyed our whole student body about clubs they would like to be involved in," Scott said.
The PBS team asked teachers, too, what they would like to sponsor.
Every two weeks, on Fridays, students who have behaved well and are in good standing academically can attend a meeting of one of the clubs. They meet for about an hour.
Those who do not earn club time with acceptable behavior must attend classes to learn things like conflict resolution techniques, making good choices or other ways to improve behavior. Those who let their grades slip work on academic skills or complete missed assignments.
Some of the clubs are just for fun or skill-building: board games, rock wall climbing, scrapbooking, art, dance, drama, photography, the animal club, fitness and athletics.
Some are service-oriented: sewing club (students make pillows and blankets for child cancer patients), SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) and the 26 Club (community service).
Others are academic: computers, a rockhound club (students learn about rocks and gems) and a book club. Also offered is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Some students have opted to use club time to go to Scott's and Eng's classes to be peer buddies to the exceptional education students.
"They love it," Scott said. "Some of the kids have just bonded with some of our special-needs kids."
So, how is the program working?
"We think it's being quite successful," Eng said.