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At Hazelbrook Middle School, students' respectful behavior doesn't go unnoticed

School recognizes model students at 'Respectful Celebration.'

TIMES PHOTO: MARK MILLER - Lisa Knodle-Bragiel, director of admissions at Linfield College, gives Hazelbrook Middle School student Josh Lakeman a Linfield cup and a cookie for answering a question during Hazelbrook's 'Respectful Celebration.'It's not always easy to be on your best behavior — especially in middle school.

But at Hazelbrook Middle School, there's an incentive. Students are rewarded for displaying “consistent respectful behavior” toward their classmates, their teachers and themselves with periodic assemblies called “Respectful Celebrations.”

“We try to take the time, a few times a year, just to recognize students that are doing what they want them to do and doing the right thing,” explained Tim Gross, the school's associate principal.

He added, “Oftentimes, kids that are doing the right thing get overshadowed by what's not going so well. And so we want to make sure we take the time as often as possible to recognize students that are doing the right thing.”

Students are nominated by their teachers for respectful behavior. About 100 are invited to each Respectful Celebration, along with their parents.

On Thursday, students at a Respectful Celebration in the middle school commons were treated to donut holes and juice. They also heard from a guest speaker, Lisa Knodle-Bragiel of Linfield College.

“Preparing for college does indeed start now,” Knodle-Bragiel, who is Linfield's director of admissions, told the students. She handed out Linfield swag and shortbread cookies to a few students she called on to answer questions about college readiness.

After Knodle-Bragiel finished her remarks and the parents took pictures of their kids with their certificates of recognition, Gross came back up to thank the parents for coming.

“One major reason why our students are so respectful is because of you and what you've taught them,” he said.

Dan Schott gave his daughter Anna, a sixth-grader at the school, a big hug afterward.

“I like the recognition that they give the kids, not just for the way they treat each other, but especially for their self-respect,” Schott said. He suggested having the Respectful Celebrations gives students “a focus,” something to strive for.

For Gross, it fits naturally with his role at Hazelbrook.

“My job is primarily to work on a positive school climate, and part of doing that is to take the time to recognize all these kids that are doing awesome stuff,” he said.