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Spinning off the stress

‘Wheel of Wow’ celebrates students and provides fun break from pandemic routine

Byron Center The past two school years have been stressful ones, said two Nickels Intermediate School teachers, so any chance they get to celebrate their fifth-graders’ hard work and accomplishments, they take it.

“It’s any excuse for any kind of celebration,” said teacher Sharon Deppe, explaining how recognizing small achievements can make someone’s day.

About twice each quarter, the teachers bring out the “Wheel of Wow” and students know it’s time to really toast their success. The teachers pull the names of fifth-graders who have received leadership cards for good behavior or good deeds – passed out by the teachers – from a box. The students then get to take a spin as their peers cheer them on. They win prizes like a no homework coupon, a snack or prize from the prize box, or the chance to sit anywhere for the day or use Mrs. Deppe’s chair.

‘We are trying really, really hard to keep them young and celebrating and happy.’

– teacher Sharon Deppe
Fifth-grader Nik Opatik spins the wheel

“It’s good to laugh with them and to joke, and all that stuff,” said teacher Sheri DeHaan, who bought the wheel, which staff dubbed the Wheel of Wow after a similar activity Principal Tom Trout has done with staff.

“We are trying really, really hard to keep them young and celebrating and happy,” Deppe said.

School has been serious lately due anxiety caused by COVID and related issues, Deppe said. Students have been sick and quarantined and the class still has regular work and standardized testing to keep up with. The Wheel of Wow is a great break for students and teachers alike. 

“The prizes can be really awesome,” said student Austin Holmes. “Not only is it fun but it’s really fun to cheer your friends on too.”

Added Josephine Funk, “It’s exciting when you’ve never been picked and you get picked for the first time.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She 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, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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