Coshocton Elementary rallies students to create positive school culture

Event pushed the message of being respectful, elevating others, being accountable and becoming a leader

COSHOCTON − Most districts are viewing this school year as the first relatively normal one since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

This includes bringing back events not held due to large-group gatherings, like pep rallies. Coshocton Elementary School had a REAL Redskin rally on Tuesday, with REAL standing for respectful, elevate others, accountable and leader. Third to sixth grade Principal John Casey said it was the first mass gathering of students they have had in two years.

The rally was held by the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) teams, another concept that was put on the backburner during the pandemic.

PBIS is an evidence-based, tiered framework for supporting students behavioral, academic, social, emotional and mental health. Studies show the program helps to improve social emotional competence, academic success and school climate while improving teacher health and well-being.

Counselor Megan Heywood and Intervention Specialist Jamie Swigert said they’re putting a lot of emphasis on school culture and relationships this year.

“With COVID-19, we’ve not been able to do a lot the last couple of years, so we wanted to kind of reignite things, start positivity around the school and have school be a fun place,” Heywood said. “If the kids want to come to school, they’re treated well and enjoy it, then, obviously, school becomes a fun place and if they’re having fun, they’re going to do better at learning.”

The rally was held in two sessions for those in preschool to second grade and third to sixth grades. It featured a video about the REAL Redskin initiative and students from the high school representing various sports and other activities, like bands. The varsity cheerleading squad performed and the students were screaming and cheering to deafening levels.

“We want there to be one cohesive message. They learn it here at the elementary at a very young age and it will carry through to the high school,” Heywood said.

Bracelets were also handed out to reinforce the REAL Redskin motto. Heywood said they plan to have REAL Redskin events every month along with posting signs throughout the school.

“It’s to reinforce what we expect around the school,” Heywood said. “Teachers in classrooms and other people in hallways when they see kids are just going to keep reiterating you need to be a real Redskin; you need to be respectful, you need to elevate others. We’re just going to keep pushing that all year long.”

Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with close to 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.

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