PERU — Hundreds of students at Dirigo Elementary School were rewarded for their good behavior with a day of arts and crafts Friday.

The 320 students in grades kindergarten through five participated in 20 activities, learning from and working with teachers and several community members. It was their reward for meeting the school’s expectations through its Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports program.

“We’re very clear about what our expectations are for teaching, and then the kids have an opportunity to show us that they understand, and we reward them when they’ve met the expectations,” Kristi Holmquist, fourth-grade teacher and co-chairman of the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports team, said. “So it’s a lot of positives.”

The school has three rules: Be Safe, Be Responsible and Be Respectful.

“So everything kind of comes back to those three things, and we’re constantly rewarding the kids when they’re showing us they’re safe, respectful and responsible,” Holmquist said.

Among the Arts Alive Activities Day projects were making tissue-paper lanterns and flowers, windsocks, camouflage paper craft, rain sticks, coil pottery, paper quilling, pet rocks, string art, and elastic and friendship bracelets; decorating cookies; learning to grow fruits and vegetables; and playing card games.

Children could decide which activity they wanted to do together, so each classroom had a mix of students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

One little boy positively glowed while showing and telling Holmquist how he decorated his cookie.

“It looks so yummy, Jonathan,” Holmquist said.

“I know,” the boy said before proudly boasting, “Two layers of frosting and two layers of sprinkles!”

“Let me know how it is,” she said, figuring he was about to eat it like other children did after decorating their cookies. “Are you going to eat it?”

“I’m going to take it home,” Jonathan said. “It’s a surprise for my daddy!”

The program’s Fun Days are about building friendships and making relationships stronger, Holmquist said.

“Some of these kids might be reading buddies together at another time, so this kind of gives an opportunity for them to meet up and develop that relationship,” Holmquist said.

The staff tries to do something rewarding once a month, whether it’s having an assembly to review the expectations with skits or some other activity. Rewards might be having an extra week outside or craft time or reading.

“So really, this whole system is about telling them the expectations and then rewarding them and certainly correcting students,” Holmquist said. “It doesn’t mean we don’t correct inappropriate behavior. We do correct them. But we try to give many more positives than the negatives.”

Ten-year-old Abby Stevens, a fourth-grade student from Canton, tried cookie decorating.

“I was being safe, respectful and responsible to be able to earn it,” Stevens said.

Principal Charlie Swan said Friday’s offering of activities was a first for the team.

“It was just a way to kind of get community members in the building to do different arts and crafts with the kids,” he said. “I mean that was the main goal, to celebrate kind of the end of the year in getting community members in and having them do special projects.”

In the remaining two weeks before school ends for the summer with a half day on Monday, June 16, staff will take the children on field trips and a field day.

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