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Fringe Benefits
by Damian Tromerhauser
May 15, 2013 | 1815 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo -- The new fence at Reed High School has had seen and unforeseen benefits this school year.
Tribune file photo -- The new fence at Reed High School has had seen and unforeseen benefits this school year.
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At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, Reed High School administrators implemented a number of changes on the RHS campus. A new fence surrounding the school greeted the students, who were also donning new school uniforms. While the alterations around the east Sparks school's campus ruffled a few feathers at first, the results have proven worthy.

The fence enclosing the campus was intended as a security measure, but Reed has also used it to reap the benefits in other areas.

“As an incentive, we told our freshmen that if they were able to get their grades up to a 3.0 GPA, that they would be given off-campus second semester,” Reed Principal Mary Vesco said. “We’ve had so many more kids reach that goal, which is what we wanted. So it’s been a positive for us in the fact that we have been able to use that as an incentive.”

Vice Principal Brandon Bringhurst said the impact of the off-campus laden enticement has resulted in large amounts of success within the freshmen class.

“We had about 45 percent of the kids make that 3.0 or better mark,” Bringhurst said. “That incentive really seemed to help and motivate some kids. It’s a big deal to them, to be able to go off campus. They’ll come up to you excited and telling you that they got their grades up. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to change the focus to them being rewarded when they’re successful academically.

“Certainly to have virtually half of our freshmen class have a ‘B’ average is pretty significant. Just with some of the kids I deal with on a regular basis who are struggling academically, to see them put in the work and effort to get up to that point, I know for them as individuals it is a big accomplishment.”

Vesco said the fence has also been used as a tool to encourage a cleaner school.

“We’ve also used it as an incentive to help keep the cafeteria clean,” she said. “There were some students in there that would leave messy tables. So I told the kids if they could keep the table clean for one week, I will give you a pass for off-campus for just Friday. And I told them I would make it a long-lasting pass as long as they kept it clean, and it has been wonderful in there.”

With the success Reed has seen with its freshmen, the Raiders will hope to extend those expectations into other grades next school year. While the requirements will remain the same for the incoming freshmen class, the rest of the school will have to work to obtain off-campus privileges as well. Sophomores, juniors and seniors will need to be on track to graduate as far as credits are concerned in order to enjoy going off campus.

“It’s not a ton of kids that will be impacted by this, but we want to continue to improve,” Bringhurst said. “A lot of what helps is the positive peer-pressure. Their buddies are asking why they can’t go with them at lunch and then telling them to get their grades up. That positive peer-pressure definitely changes things.”

Another change that Reed enforced at the beginning of the school year was a school-wide uniform. That change has also seen a positive impact on the school's students.

“Where the uniforms have really affected us is on the number of fights,” Bringhurst said. “Those numbers have been literally cut in half from last year to this year. That’s a very significant improvement. You can count on one hand the number of fights that we have had on campus, in the hallways. It may not be a direct cause from the uniforms, but it’s helped a lot.”

Considering all of the improvements that have taken place in just one school year, Vesco said she has seen a different environment at Reed.

“I think the biggest change has just been the climate and culture at the school,” she said. “The kids seem to be in-tune with what’s happening in the classroom. There are fewer distractions for them, and I think the uniform has caused part of that change. And kids are getting their grades up so they can go off-campus. So I think just the overall culture and focus of the school has improved immensely.”

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