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BEA Elem. students learn through cleanliness challenge
October 8, 2017

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Please and thank you are the magic words. But what are the magic actions to go with those words?

At Blue Earth Elementary School, the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms are practicing what the BEA school preaches; being respectful, being responsible, and being safe.

How, you may ask? By doing their part in the classrooms, hallways, and restrooms when it comes to being polite and cleaning up after themselves. And they are doing it with a twist. A healthy bit of competition between first floor, comprised of kindergarten and first graders, and the second floor, of second graders.

"The students have been working hard at showing respectful, responsible and safe behaviors with one area in particular: the bathrooms," said school social worker Kelly Bleess. "While it may not sound the most glamorous, the students and staff are placing emphasis on making sure waste paper hits the basket, hands are clean, and that we care for the school and each other by keeping the area clean."

Even the school's custodial crew has been helping with the challenge as they were the judges to the competition.

Each floor received paper blocks to tally the bathroom and hallway challenge. Bleess says custodians scored the second floor and first floor based on cleanliness and general condition.

For weeks, students were in heated competition. Both teachers and other BEA support staff heard multiple updates from students as to which floor was winning.

"Kids could be heard saying 'the first floor is winning!' or 'the second floor is winning!' and were excited to count the building blocks posted on the wall to keep score," said Bleess.

Last Monday, Oct. 2, the blocks were finally tallied for each floor. Though each floor gave their all, the first floor pulled ahead ever-so-slightly, earning the first grade and kindergarten classrooms a well-deserved hat day.

"Our teacher leaders decided they wanted a challenge and set September as the 'Bathroom Challenge' to target behavioral expectations in this area," says Bleess. "While the emphasis is on being respectful, responsible and safe school-wide, our next challenge area is the playground where we will be emphasizing what it looks like and sounds like to be respectful, responsible and safe on the playground."

Bleess states the importance of instilling these types of "soft skills" or social and emotional skills help students to develop friendships and positive peer relationships and positive relationships with adults.

"The work we do to develop and encourage these skills contributes to a sense of community and culture in our school," says Bleess. "Ultimately, these are the skills that contribute to positive character traits that help students become successful both in school and in life."

And the success of this challenge, according to Bleess, is due to the participation of the students who believe the modeling that teachers do is important.

"Our teachers demonstrate Buc Pride on a daily basis and are living examples of what it means to 'Be Your Best' at BEA," Bleess shares.

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