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Good behavior earns a snow day

Sandy Grade School students enjoy Skibowl, thanks to their good behavior
by: Garth Guibord, Three boys from Sandy Grade School look down the hill as they prepare to take another run on their sleds.

Monday and Tuesday were snow days for approximately 300 students at Sandy Grade School, just not in a traditional sense. While there were no snow flakes in the air, each day brought nearly 150 kids on a sledding trip to Mt. Hood Skibowl, as part of the school's positive behavior support program.

The program rewards students for displaying expected behaviors, such as walking in the halls instead of running, or proper ways to act when they're in the library, office, playground or at an assembly. Students get P.AWs awards - for Positively Awesome - for being safe, responsible, kind and respectful and can use them as currency at the P.AWs store to purchase items or for special trips, such as sledding.

'You can just earn them at school by just being good and helping out,' said first-grader Hector Ramirez, 7, of the awards. 'You can help kids when they fall, help people with their math, be quiet, help out the teacher, a lot of things.'

On the flip side, students who don't quite meet the expectations set before them can end up with a Yikes, which acts as a type of demerit. And according to the students, the system seems to work.

'I think it's fair because the people who don't get Yikes, they get shown how good they were and get a prize,' said fifth-grader Nolan Wright, 10.

The big prize on Monday and Tuesday was studying the bumps on the sledding hill before a quick trip to the bottom instead of studying arithmetic or social studies.

'When you go down and if you hit a bump, it's like really cool because you go up and you can get lots of air in your face,' said fifth-grader Nolan Wright, 10. 'It feels really good.'

'We get to play in the snow, have fun, be with our friends and scream,' said fourth-grade student Kalen Kautz, 10. 'I like to scream.'

While screaming isn't exactly part of the program back at school, it was a common accompaniment to the sledding. And some students even let loose as they made the climb back up the hill with their sled in tow - but everyone did their best to be (what else?) positive.

'The more you fall, the more you have fun,' said second-grade student Caitlynn Swanson, 8, after she slipped on her way up.

Caitlin Rutherford, fifth-grade teacher, pointed out that students didn't leave the behavior expectations at the school before going to Skibowl.

'You can see that the kids up here are doing a great job being responsible and safe,' said Caitlin Rutherford, fifth-grade teacher. 'That's what they do all the time.'

'Not only does a child feel good, but it also creates a school atmosphere that is more positively charged,' said Steve Snow, a counselor at Sandy Grade School who organized the sledding trip. 'Kids recognize that when they're doing the right thing, they're adding to a successful community.'