BROOKSVILLE — Walking the plank wasn't a punishment for mutiny at Powell Middle School last week.
Along with basketball tosses, Wii boxing and tennis, an arcade dance game and Powell versions of Name That Tune, Are You Smarter Than A 5th-Grader and Scene It, walking the plank was a competition of champions.
Earlier in the school year, principal Dave Dannemiller divided his school's population into four groups: the Purple Dragons, the Blue Bombers, the Green Goblins and the Yellow Stingers. The idea was to group the students and staff across grade levels into houses (reminiscent of the Harry Potter series) that would meet during study hall periods.
Each house tries to collect points to win prizes. More importantly, Dannemiller hopes the students develop ties of belonging and encourage each other to behave well and work hard.
Throughout October, during an activity period on Fridays, each house competed to determine champions. It was those champions who competed in Friday's schoolwide contest. The members of the winning house were awarded their choice of spirit prizes that included T-shirts, hats, panther paws and water bottles. The competition winners received medals.
Students earn points for their houses through positive behavior, reading, participating in school spirit events and in other ways. "It's amazing how students will strive to earn points for their teams," Dannemiller said. He has heard students talking to each other about staying out of trouble because they weren't winning any points for the team.
The overall points are posted in the cafeteria. Monthly team totals are listed as well. Each month, the highest-scoring team's members receive homework passes and ice cream.
The program is financed through Positive Behavior Support fundraising and school funds.
Yellow Stinger seventh-grader Tanner Killoran said he has noticed how sometimes in class, "we have competitions and we try to work together."
Blue Bomber eighth-grader Tyla Toppin competed in the plank walk and has been enjoying being in a house.
"This is really fun to get together with friends and embarrass ourselves," she said. She encourages her friends to get points "by just telling them they're doing a good job and encouraging them to try their hardest."
Eight-grade Yellow Stringer Nicholas Springer was a plank-walking winner. He likes the study hall time. "It's fun," he said, "and you get to do your homework and study."