Hundreds of fresh-faced, well-rested teens arrived on the Calaveras High School campus Monday morning to begin the new school year. Among the fashionable first-day-of-school outfits were students and staff wearing plain, black t-shirts touting “Calaveras PRIDE” in red letters.
Calaveras PRIDE is the brainchild of a committee of teachers and administrators, under the larger umbrella of the federally-funded Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The committee gathered last fall to develop an acronym that encompassed the core values at
Calaveras High (personal responsibility, respect, integrity, diversity, and excellence).
The project was headed by English teacher Andrea Floyd, who had previous experience implementing PBIS while working in San Jose.
“Some of the philosophy behind creating this school culture is telling kids they can do it and are capable of certain things,” said Floyd, who added that “changing the language we use as adults” can positively reinforce good behavior. Another method of positive reinforcement is through Calaveras Cash, which students can earn from teachers and spend at the campus store.
Last spring, Floyd organized a “diverse” team of student volunteers to develop a set of skits demonstrating PRIDE values. The group met five times over the course of the summer to brainstorm and practice, and the fruits of their efforts were revealed on the first day of school when they performed in front of a new audience each period.
Vaughn Schenkerberg, a 16-year-old junior at Calaveras High, said he didn’t mind taking a few hours out of his summer to work on the project.
“I love doing community projects to benefit our campus,” Schenkerberg told the Enterprise before taking the stage for the first time. “I think they’re going to get a new name for Calaveras, because this is something new that we’re introducing today to all the students, and it’s something the teachers don’t really go over with us.”
Schenkerberg, who is club president of Circle of Friends and involved in several other school clubs, said he thinks that diversity is the most important value for students to bring onto campus.
“I feel like there’s a split between classes and everything, and just groups. I feel like if we show the diversity skit, people will understand that it’s OK to involve people that you don’t typically hang out with or don’t do the same activities as you,” he said.
This school year, Floyd hopes that students will be encouraged to strive for a more “PRIDEful” campus and feel comfortable in their own skin.
“A lot of kids on campus need to be acknowledged more for what they do,” Floyd said. “We really have a special population – a lot of kids doing really cool things and don’t have the confidence in themselves to own that.”