CALUMET CITY | Calumet City School District 155 students are not only learning to read and write, they’re also getting instruction in manners and respect toward others, a fact that school officials were pleased to talk about on Thursday.
Woodrow Wilson Elementary School Principal Deborah Smith gave a presentation to the School Board about the “First Class Citizens” initiative that began with the current school year and will continue in future years.
Smith told School Board members the focus of the initiative is to teach students to respect each other. To that end, a series of goals were set for use at all district schools.
Among the things that are stressed to students is to keep their heads, hands, feet and any objects they may have on them to themselves, unless they have permission from others to touch them.
Smith said the need to teach social skills also extends to the cafeteria, where officials were determined to reduce the amount of raucous noise.
Now, students are taught to eat for 15 minutes, spend another 10 minutes talking to students at the same table, then spend two or three minutes getting themselves back to their next class.
Smith said aside from reducing the amount of noise in the cafeteria, it also had the practical effect of ensuring that students were actually eating lunch.
“Sometimes they were talking so much that they weren’t eating,” she said, adding that students have been taught the concept of using a “restaurant voice” while eating, meaning not to talk too loudly.
Overall, she said putting the emphasis on teaching proper behavior rather than just disciplining improper behavior has been successful.
“We’ve seen great improvements in the climate of our school buildings,” Smith said.
District 155 Superintendent Troy Paraday said he has seen improvements in student behavior, particularly in a lack of running in the hallways between classes.
School Board President Stanley Long liked what he heard during Thursday’s report, saying, “It sounds like we’re getting the message through to our young people.”
In other business, the School Board changed the date of its next board meeting from May 16 to May 6 to coincide with the meeting at which the board seats new members chosen in the April 9 elections.
The board also approved an extension of the contract with Kickert School Bus Line, Inc. The Lynwood-based company will be paid 2.2 percent more money by the district under the new contract, but Paraday downplayed the increase by saying it was only a $2.03 increase per bus route.