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New Trend? N.J. Middle School Rewards Proper Behavior With Prizes

Principal Says Approach At Westwood Regional Has Taken Bite Out Of Bullying

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WESTWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Every parent goes through the tough job of trying to get their kids to behave. Well, there’s a school in Bergen County trying a new way to inspire their students to do the right thing.

CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu was recently on hand during lunchtime at Westwood Regional Middle School, where the kids are encouraged to make some noise.

The students were excited because administrators were giving out prizes such as pizza for positive behavior. Students said the positive reinforcement works wonders.

“Sometimes when you do either very well on your homework the class will get a high-5, or if we have a couple new students in the school so if you ask them if you want to sit at their lunch table, or like help them get around the school,” seventh grader Meaghan Shanley said.

The students earn high-5 tickets when they’re caught doing something good by anyone who works in the school. The tickets go into the birdhouses and then every Friday at lunchtime it’s time to draw for prizes.

“Some of the popular ones, lunch in the courtyard; we have sports treasure chest; we have lunch in the field,” seventh grader Suzanne Ziegler said.

The mission is to make the students accountable, empathetic and successful, and the positive reinforcement is never ending.

After every weekly drawing the high-5 cards are thrown into a bigger bin and then once a month a drawing is held for bigger prizes, such as iTunes gift cards and movie tickets, Hsu reported.

Principal Frank Connelly said encouraging good behavior is working.

“Our discipline has decreased; our bullying has decreased,’ Connelly said. “Just them feeling comfortable in the classroom has helped to improve overall grades and so on. So we’re proud of that.”

Students said it makes middle school a lot more fun.

“In the elementary school it was like ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ and here it’s more like ‘good job doing this, good job doing that.’ So I like it a lot better than the elementary schools,” seventh grader Andrew Loverich said.

“I think the best thing is that kids learn that the more things you do better, the better that you feel, and the better that everyone gets along,” seventh grader Michelle Kalish added.

It’s a lesson the students are celebrating.

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