Citizenship Starts Early

We celebrated our February Caring Citizens of the month is morning. A great group of kiddos in this picture. Keep spreading those caring behaviors throughout our school.

Earlier this week, more than a dozen students at Bayfield Intermediate School were recognized by their teachers for showing that they grasped the importance of being helpful to others at home and school, and also in their community and the world.

The children chosen as the school’s Citizens of the Month were selected for demonstrating the characteristics associated with being a “caring” individual, which was the citizenship theme chosen for February.

“There are eight different citizenship themes we celebrate monthly throughout the year, and our school’s citizenship program culminates in a Citizen of the Year award that comes in May,” Bayfield Intermediate School Counselor Rob Stafford stated.

The eight themes are: Responsibility, Cooperation, Positive Attitude, Honesty, Acceptance, Caring, Perseverance and Friendship.

“It’s a school wide program, and each month the teachers are given information about the theme and the indicators that we are expecting kids to demonstrate,” he explained. “At the end of the month, each teacher picks the Citizen of the Month for their classroom.”

BIS has five different classrooms for each grade level, so there are 15 winners recognized by the school each month. The students names get read over the announcements at the school, and Stafford said a real effort is made to also invite others in the community to celebrate good citizenship and the students who are best displaying it throughout the year.

“Other kids are hugely into congratulating them when they win, and the announcement at school is followed up by really good phone calls home,” Stafford smiled. “The picture of the monthly winners is also posted on Facebook, and most of the parents are into that, so those kids are really seen. Some of the teachers put their winner into their newsletter as well, so there are a lot of ways this is celebrated.”

Mr. Rob (Stafford)

The veteran school counselor said he is privileged and honored to have run the citizenship program at BIS for the past 20 years, but he noted the initiative is a long-standing tradition that began some time before he arrived on the scene.

“I wasn’t the one who invented it. It was a tradition that has carried forward and been around for at least 30 years,” he reported. “And I can’t take sole credit for it either. There are many people who have their fingers in this program.”

The characteristics that represent good citizenship aren’t built in a day - or even a month - so Stafford said it is important that so many people are involved in supporting the program and encouraging students to grow in the areas identified by the monthly themes.

“This sets the foundation for good citizenship, and I credit parents, teachers, coaches and everybody who helps kids become good citizens,” Stafford reasoned. “The kids embrace those foundations, and really take it on whole-heartedly. They want to do these things, and want to become a cooperative person or a person with a positive attitude or strong perseverance. It is who they want to be.”

The various mentors who set an example and help students embrace the foundations of citizenship provide plenty of impetus for the program, but the school throws in a little extra motivation that certainly helps the kids stay focused and engaged on the monthly themes.

The “Citizenship Breakfast” is a long standing tradition at BIS, and Bayfield’s PTSA provides a big portion of the money for the monthly celebration. The winners really look forward to getting together to celebrate their achievement with muffins, fruit, parfait, juice and other items in a special spread laid out for them in the school cafeteria. This month the kids enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day decor as they dished up their reward.

The Citizenship Breakfast

“It’s a good way to recognize and appreciate the kids, and I love to brag on the breakfast,” Stafford described. “Julie Whitmore and Chantel Wymore get it all set up each month, and they order the stuff 10 days in advance. Chantel is really seasonal with the decorations, and makes it look really good for everybody.”

The program culminates in May when each teacher selects two students from their classroom to be honored as BIS Citizens of the Year. They are recognized at the annual end of the year awards ceremony, and Stafford said the recognition is something the vast majority of kids really strive for.

“Most kids have as one of their goals to become a Citizen of the Month,” he said. “We have all sorts of math goals, reading goals, explorers goals, but we also have kids that set themselves up to be Citizens of the Month or Citizen of the Year.”