With the promise of a chance to win $1,500 donated by Balfour and numerous smaller prizes, the new program provides every student a chance to demonstrate good character traits while improving discipline issues, absenteeism and test scores at the school.
Social studies teacher Glen Hile heard about a character program created by Doug Dodge at his high school, North Harrison, located in southern Indiana. Hile, along with fellow teacher Amy Berry (foreign language) and Assistant Principal Russ Hesler, visited Dodge and returned as fans of the program. They got permission to start their own program at GHS and named it CUBS.
The kickoff to the program took place on the first Friday of the new school year. A convocation led by Dodge got students geared up to participate. He told kids that in three years his school was able to cut its discipline referrals and tardiness by 50 percent. At the same time, test scores rose as students got onboard with Dodge's program.
"We plan to try this here," said Hile. "We'll kick out what doesn't work and keep building on it every year."
Kids who sign a GHS honor code pledging to be a person of character and helping to build a more honest society by putting honor above all and refusing to cheat will sign a large banner to be displayed in the cafeteria for the rest of the year.
Every Monday there will be a 20-minute session on character education with teachers incorporating that education into their classroom activities.
Students can receive a dollar if they can recite a poem when asked that talks about thoughts becoming words, actions, habits and eventually character.
School clubs can earn a pizza party. Students can also be referred by teachers and have their photos displayed in a monthly PowerPoint presentation representing the character trait of the month.
They can also earn points by simply demonstrating good character traits such as kindness, politeness, respect, cooperation, generosity, helpfulness, tolerance and others.
"It can be as simple as opening a door for someone else or carrying books for someone who needs help," explained Hile. "Teachers and staff members can give a CUBS coin for any act they see a student perform.
These coins can be turned in for extra treats in the school's cafeteria. Students can even earn "get out of jail free" cards.
"If a student gets a detention and has four coins they can get out of detention," said Hile. They can also get out of one detention by being able to recite the "Watch Your Thoughts" poem and writing a half-page article on the importance of character.
The big prize, however, is the chance to win the $1,500. One student from each of the four classes will be chosen by drawing tickets that were earned.
One lucky student will win the money and the other three will win Acer Aspire notebook computers. Names will be drawn out of the remaining tickets to give out 50 more prizes like gift cards.
Dodge explained to students during the convocation that incentives are given out by business all the time and they help students perform too.
Goals for this year's program are to reduce school tardies by 20 percent; improve school attendance to 97 percent; reduce the number of students failing each nine weeks by 20 percent; reduce the number of discipline referrals by 20 percent; and to increase the school,s End of Course Assessment (ECA) passing percentage to 80 percent.
During the kick-off, Dodge told students that the only person in charge of their character was the student. He said it was OK to be average if that was the best you could be, but to remember that average is "the best of the worst and the worst of the best."
"I like to quote John Wooden, who said, 'You are going to be remembered by your last act,'" said Dodge.
Hile doesn't expect an overnight change but believes the CUBS program is a good first step.
"As Warren Buffett says, 'An individual needs three traits to be successful on the job: intelligence, work ethic and character. The first two without the last will kill you,'" said Hile.
For information about CUBS, contact Hile, Berry or Hesler at the high school at 653-9711.