A different approach to the first day of schoolSubmitted: 09/03/2013
Story By Lex Gray

RHINELANDER - The first day of school usually means a long day of new schedules and different expectations. But teachers at Rhinelander High School mixed it up this year.

Dozens of high schoolers running around a field doesn't look like a typical first day of school. That's exactly the point.

"We decided it would be a great way to ease the kids into the school year," said Allie Johnson, an English teacher. "[We can] get our expectations out, walk them through procedural changes that have happened, go over the rules, and also give them some time to bond."

Time to bond doesn't just mean catching up on what happened over the summer. Students did team-building exercises with their classmates.
"We were working together to get across the line," said junior Morgan Blaser. "We all have to move at the same time, act at the same time, and react at the same time, and by doing this, that might help us build stronger relationships in the classroom, and help us learn how each other works."

Teachers hope the day will set the tone for the year. They're rolling out a second year of PBIS, or Positive Behavior Intervention Systems.

"The focus is on teaching good behavior and expectations," Johnson said. "So walking kids through these areas in school, teaching them the behaviors, hopefully will reinforce them, and then everyone gets the same message, the same expectation is out for everybody. So to start the school year this way will definitely have an effect in the hallways and in the classrooms."

Blaser says the school felt more like a family because of PBIS - and it helped the whole school behave a little better.

"Our focus last year was tardies, and tardies went down immensely. I think the number was 15 percent over the course of the year, and so it has had a great effect," Johnson said. "It's also affected the school climate. I think kids are much more positive. Kids are more respectful and responsible because those are our key values in PBIS."

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