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Reinforcing positive character traits

The character education program at Elden Elementary School has received an infusion of fresh ideas to promote and reinforce positive character traits students are striving to model in and out of school. Elden's six person character education committee, headed by teaching assistant Gloria Cook, has created several new initiatives to enhance the program this year, which highlights a different trait each month.

Whenever they visit the cafeteria, Elden students are reminded of the importance of positive character traits. The committee has renamed the cafeteria Citizenship Commons with a street sign. As students walk down the hallways, more street signs indicate if they're on Responsibility Row, Respect Road or Integrity Intersection. Cook said more street signs will be installed later this year.

The committee designated two bulletin boards in the school to be used to highlight a character trait each month and provide students with the opportunity to post how they define the trait. The fourth and fifth grades have their very own character connection board.

"We have something special for the older kids because we want to be sure to reinforce these traits as much as we can before they move on to middle school," Cook said.

The character connection board is covered with special paper that students can leave comments on with a wipe board marker. They write about how they're demonstrating the trait of the month with their daily actions and activities.

"The school is emphasizing that students treat everyone they come into contact with at school, in their homes, and in the community with equal respect," Cook said.

To reinforce this, the school honors different staff members each month. In September, bus drivers were honored at Elden's monthly meeting and in October the school's food service staff members were honored.

The character education committee is in the process of planning a restaurant day for each grade with several activities leading up to it. While eating lunch students will be watching videos regarding proper table manners. Cafeteria staff members will be recognizing students who have displayed restaurant manners by posting their names under a large spoon that hangs on the wall outside the cafeteria. Students will recognize their peers in the same way by posting their names under a large fork in the hallway.

Cook said that on restaurant day students will be treated as if they're dining in a restaurant. They'll be expected to demonstrate their proper dining manners, and the committee is planning on having a wait staff to attend to them.

The character education traits that are highlighted each month in all of the district's elementary schools are respect (September), responsibility (October), caring (November), citizenship (December), diversity (January), honesty and trustworthiness (February), justice and fairness (March), cooperation (April), self-discipline (May) and integrity (June).

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