WARRENSBURG - Improvements in attitude are generally made one small step at a time.
Officials and staff at Warrensburg High School, seeking to instill positive behavioral traits in students, have recently launched an initiative to make it happen.
And since May 12, Warrensburg High School teachers have witnessed their high school students take about 5,000 steps toward only one of the program's five goals: improving conditions in the hallways.
Weekly, the teachers are issued a set of tickets they present to students who demonstrate positive behavior patterns, whether it's simply walking in line, or offering a pleasant greeting passing by, or helping another student.
Those tickets are entered into drawings, with nine daily prizes, three weekly prizes - like two iPod Shuffles and a digital camera - and one grand prize per semester.
Friday, eighth grader Reagan Oehler won the top prize, a Wii console and Wii Fit system.
She said she appreciated the prize, especially considering that her two aunts had waited in a parking lot of an electronics store for a day and a half so they could purchase a Wii system last year for a holiday gift.
She said the incentive of such prizes has improved behavior in Warrensburg High School's hallways.
"Kids used to mess around in the hallway and push each other around and stuff, but they don't now, because they think getting the prizes is cool," she said.
She said Friday she couldn't pinpoint exactly what she did to deserve all 30 tickets she garnered, except that she's generally been nice, and once helped another student or two with books they dropped.
School Social Worker John Friauf said this initial phase of this program, "Warrensburg Pride," has proven successful.
The program has gotten the students' attention," he said. "The hallways are a lot cleaner now, and teachers say the program has worked to improve behavior."
Hallway behavior rewarded with tickets, he said, includes no hanging out at one's locker, walking to the right, keeping hands to one's self, using appropriate language and talking at a moderate volume. Friendly greetings to one another, keeping expressions of affection G-rated, and performing good deeds for students are also a plus. Keeping the hallway clean and getting to one's destination on time fully prepared for class also win points.
Friauf said that the program's next phases, to be rolled out in fall and winter, will focus on classrooms, the cafeteria, and buses, each objective with its own set of criteria.
He added that the program, using what sociologists call the positive behavioral intervention approach, is also being implemented in the elementary school.
Warrensburg senior Noah Davis said the program's incentives are working.
"Hey, who's not gonna try to get free stuff like iPod Shuffles," he said.
Senior Gilbert Wood agreed.
"It's a win-win situation for the school and the students," he said.