One week after Point Pleasant Borough High School celebrated the launch of the Positive Behavior Supports in Schools (PBSIS) initiative, BE ON POINT, Point Borough’s Memorial Middle School feted the kickoff of MMS Roars with Panther Pride, the intermediate school’s take on the data-driven tiered intervention behavioral support system aimed at improving school climates.
Although the rain forecast for Friday, September 28 slightly altered the kickoff celebration's planned activities, it did little to dampen the spirit of the students and staff as they capped off an instructional week dedicated to defining the school’s code of conduct and expectations for behavior.
"Students had a break from their normal schedules for the week to participate in activities to introduce MMS Roars with Panther Pride," said Memorial Middle School Social Worker Marcie Bradley, who along with Assistant Principal Heather Karagias, comprise the program coaches. "Throughout the week, classroom lessons were interjected with exercises designed to promote the program’s kickoff while explaining the overarching themes of Respect, Responsibility, Kindness and Character.”
Themes that, according to Mrs. Bradley, were the context of skits, games and activities featured at the kickoff celebration.
Mrs. Bradley said the festivities began following a brief video of highlights from the kickoff week featured on the school’s Panther News, after which the students and staff headed over to the Loren Donley Center for Performing Arts at Point Pleasant Borough High School.
Musical performances welcomed the students to the auditorium as the Eighth Grade Band and the school Chorus performed a set list of songs designed to showcase students’ musical talents while inspiring school spirit and pride among the audience members. Memorial Middle School’s eighth grade music sensation ‘Little Jimmy’ Lawroski accompanied the chorus on guitar, performing one of his original compositions and wrapping up the student performances before the kickoff emcee, sixth grade teacher Lisa Miller, took to the stage to introduce the school’s teaching teams as they presented original skits, games and presentations designed to define the various aspects of the positive behavior initiative.
The sixth grade teaching team kicked things off, performing an original rap song, inspired by PBSIS.
The seventh grade teaching team was up next, using a modified version of the hit game show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, to explain proper school etiquette.
Host ‘Patty Pantherific’ aka special education teacher Donna Palermo, tested seventh grade language arts teacher Lauren Mangiafico, as contestant ‘Rosie’, on subjects such as, appropriate behavior in the school cafeteria and hallways, how to treat others, and panther pride, while her ‘classmates’, her fellow seventh grade teachers, offered their assistance.
The eighth grade teaching team focused on the theme of character, what eighth grade science teacher Kevin Hynes referred to as the “foundation of every other PBSIS trait.”
After explaining what character means to them, the teaching team, relating character to good sportsmanship, presented an inspirational video about a baseball player, hurt during the course of the game, who was literally carried by her opponents around the bases, winning the game.
“There are a lot of ways to define character,” said Mr. Hynes, “what you chose to do when no one is looking, when you have nothing to gain doing what's right and nothing to lose by doing what's wrong, that is character."
Another team presentation focused on Olympian John Orozco, who teacher Emily Bergmann said exemplifies character, before showcasing a video featuring the 19-year-old Bronx-born Orozco set to the Gym Class Heroes song “ The Fighter”
Between each presentation, Minute to Win It style games were alternated with prize drawings, culled from the MMS Roars with Panther Pride incentive program, Panther Paws.
“All week long staff members were on the lookout, watching for students demonstrating Respect, Responsibility, Kindness and/or Character,” Ms. Karagias said. “If they [the students] were caught in the act, they were issued a Panther Paw ticket, which was placed in the bin for the kickoff’s drawings.”
Ms. Karagias said when the Panther Paws were pulled from the bin, both the student who earned the ticket as well as the staff member who wrote the ticket, were invited to the stage to spin the prize wheel to win prizes from local vendors, including lunches from Jersey Mike’s Subs, Delicious Bagels, and Forte Restaurant.
“Recognition is critical aspect of MMS Roars with Panther Pride,” she said. “ The Program is all about identifying, recognizing and acknowledging positive behaviors. The rationale is by reinforcing positive behaviors and attitudes we proactively addresses the root cause of behavioral issues.”
The staff presentation portion of the kickoff closed with the teachers and administrators performing a flash mob dance routine to Chris Brown’s “Don’t Wake Me Up”, choreographed by eighth grade teacher, and high school cheerleader advisor Emily Bergmann, as the students cheered from their seats.
“Although we only officially introduced MMS Roars with Panther Pride on Monday September 24 the implementation has been a year in the making," said Memorial Middle School Principal Gary Floyd. “After successfully completing the competitive grant application process, we identified members of school teams to assist in the program development and implementation. These teams underwent a collective 100 hours of training to design the MMS Roars with Panther Pride program, participating in surveys, selecting both a logo and a motto, and developing guidelines and principles in advance of the kickoff week.”
“Disciplinary measures are by definition, reactionary,” said Superintendent of Schools Vincent S. Smith. “MMS Roars with Panther Pride as well as Point Pleasant Borough High School’s BE ON POINT Initiative, employ proactive approaches to create positive school environments for all panthers, redefining expectations to help students make the best behavioral choices.”
“As all parents and educators alike are aware, focusing on negative behavior perpetuates negative behaviors,” he said. “Children do not differentiate between positive and negative attention. These programs, and the larger PBSIS initiative, provide positive attention to students before they adopt maladaptive behaviors. I look forward to watching these programs become further integrated into our schools for which our students, and our community, will be the beneficiaries.”