SYCAMORE – Jeremy Hayes has cherished his final days at Sycamore Middle School.
When the eighth-grader enters high school next year, he’s well aware there won’t be any inflatable obstacle courses or dance parties during the school day like there were Wednesday at his school.
More than 850 middle schoolers celebrated the end of the school year during a districtwide field day as a reward for their good behavior throughout the year. They traveled throughout the school visiting different stations set up with activities including arts and crafts, movies, inflatable obstacle courses and karaoke.
Northern Illinois University students and athletes, including Sycamore High School and Middle School alumni Atlee Mathews, Marckie Hayes and Justine Schepler, also came by the school to celebrate with the students.
“I don’t even remember having this when I was here,” said Schepler, a senior volleyball player at NIU. “This is pretty cool for them.”
The activities were a reward for students who had earned at least 60 good-behavior points through the school’s positive behavioral interventions and support model. Students earn points by practicing respectful and responsible actions, said math teacher and behavior committee coordinator Brooke Wright.
The students earn points by simple gestures such as cleaning up after themselves in the cafeteria or walking quietly in the hallway. However, they can also have points deducted for misbehavior, she said.
The students compiled more than 97,000 positive points this year, which is about 88 percent of the points given.
Hayes, a junior defensive back on the NIU football team, said he was thrilled to spend time with the students and teach them about working hard and being rewarded in the long run. He recognized some faces from helping his father coach youth football.
His younger sister attends Sycamore High School and his brother will be at the middle school in the fall, which is why he feels so connected to the Sycamore schools and the community.
“It makes it even more of a family thing,” he said.
Wright said having a positive reward system in place for students is one of the best ways to keep them motivated and teach them beneficial lessons they will take with them beyond middle school.
“You really want to focus on the positives,” she said. “That’s the big thing.”