Maquinna Elementary School students Anya Garcia

Maquinna school’s shooting STARS

Elementary school students in Alberni take teamwork to new level with social justice initiative.

Some STAR pupils are making a difference at Maquinna Elementary School this year.

Three students made a presentation to School District 70 trustees at their meeting on Dec. 10.

The students are participating in an inquiry initiative that all schools in the district are taking on.

At Maquinna, students chose to work on a social justice project called STARS, which stands for safety, teamwork, achievement, respect and share. The initiative is referred to as a STARS code of conduct at the school.

“As a staff we thought it was important to revive the school code of conduct in our school, and actively engage our students in the learning, modelling and teaching processes of doing so,” school principal Darren Homan said.

The initiative actually started in 2012 but has been worked on consistently since, Homan said.

The goal of the project was to teach appropriate school behaviour by strengthening the STARS code of conduct.  Specific initiatives to accomplish this included making it more visible in the school, training students to model appropriate playground behaviour and reduce problematic playground behaviour.

“We asked a question: “Will school wide and class activities focused on our STARS code of conduct create a safe and respectful school culture and learning environment?”” Homan said.

Students set to work by making code of conduct posters, which were placed around the school. They also created assemblies where the code of conduct was modelled by teachers and students in skits. And an anti-bullying video was produced and uploaded to Youtube.

The initiative has yielded tangible results.

According to Homan, the STARS code of conduct is part of students’ and teachers’ language. Leadership students took the lead in teaching other students the code. And there has been a decrease in reports of problem behaviour as well as referrals to the office.

Making STARS consistent across all grades and classes is seen as a way to launch the initiative’s next step, Homan said. To accomplish that, teachers have agreed to begin teaching lessons from a social responsibility curriculum created by the Richmond School District.

The impact of STARS isn’t lost on students.

Teaching kids not to bully is a key part of being a leader, Grade 5 student Cortney Cameron said. “The lessons teach the students how to not only be a Maquinna STAR but also how to solve problems in effective ways and how to help your friends when they need it,” she said.

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