Pride reaches far and wide, thanks to incentive program

Traits recognized carry over into world of work

Junior Andrew Agius and senior Lizzie Allison say BC P.R.I.D.E has shifted mindsets and motivated students to do better and aim higher

In a big school, the same few athletes and academic superstars tend to get most of the recognition. But Byron Center students say they want to give shout-outs to the hundreds of students who are “doing the right things.”

A new program, BC P.R.I.D.E, gives students credit – platinum or gold card membership, to be exact – for character and hard work, while showcasing pride in their school and spreading it to the community. Already, more than 300 students have earned memberships.

The high school created the incentive using Jostens Renaissance Education program as a model, and customized it for the district based on input from students. While it does honor good grades and significant GPA improvements, it also recognizes character traits that go beyond straight As on a report card. P.R.I.D.E stands for perseverance, respect, integrity, discovery and excellence in the classroom, campus and community.

“Our school is growing so much and it’s getting so much bigger. I feel like the bigger it gets, the harder it is to make connections and make everyone feel special and reward them,” said senior Lizzie Allison, who worked to develop the program last school year with fellow Life and Leadership Program students. “The BC P.R.I.D.E program helps students get more involved and feel more of a pride for their school.”

To be a member, students need to have a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher for the platinum card; and a 3.5 or higher or .25 GPA growth from the previous semester for the gold card. They also have to be proficient in all sections of standardized tests in the previous school year for platinum, or be proficient or show 100 point growth for gold. They must also meet behavior and attendance criteria.

Jobs are waiting for students who want to put their skills to use

Cards with Perks

Lizzie and other students wanted to make sure the program’s reach went beyond school walls. “We wanted to create an aspect that was about the community as well,” she  said. “It’s us representing the school everywhere, not just when we are at school but when we are working at a job or going to those places.”

BC P.R.I.D.E members receive perks from community businesses, free admission to school athletic events and free student parking passes. They also enjoy monthly Donut Days, sponsored by local businesses and organizations. Sponsors include the U.S. Army, Health Bridge and Mathnasium, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Plummers Environmental Services and South Kent Rotary. Drawings for prizes given by colleges and businesses each month, and a chance for a Root Beer Float party with up to four friends also are held every month.

Donna Hogoboom, student services and BC P.R.I.D.E coordinator, said businesses will soon be involved in other ways, possibly leading sessions on finances and milestones like buying a car or hosting mock interviews. “It’s opening doors to get kids comfortable with businesses. It could lead to interviews or full-time jobs,” she said.

Hogoboom is also secretary of the Byron Center Chamber of Commerce. “The skills they have that we’re recognizing are those skills that make a good employee,” she said. “Talking to business owners will give them a perspective of jobs, what it takes to get them and connect the local business community with students. I think it’s a win-win all the way around.”

Junior Andrew Agius, a platinum card holder, already sees the relationships students are building with his parents, Rosalia LoPiparo and Salvatore Agius, who own the local Mineo’s Pizza.

“This brings a connection where they can see the younger generation come in and even apply for jobs. I know we have one or two students who have come in because of BC P.R.I.D.E. They didn’t even know we were there and now they work for us.

“I feel like it connects the whole community together and it involves (linking) the younger generation in high school to the local business owners.”

Junior Andrew Agius and senior Lizzie Allison are helping build BC P.R.I.D.E
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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