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Berg Elementary to ‘stampede’ into success this year

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 11:18 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 11:42 a.m. CST
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
Superintendent Bob Callaghan speaks to a Berg elementary student at the Stampede to Success assembly to welcome the students back.

Be safe. Be respectful. Be responsible. Be caring. At Berg Elementary, this is known as the Cardinal Code, and at Thursday’s back-to-school assembly, the staff wanted to make sure it was instilled in both new and returning students.

The assembly also was used to debut this years learning theme, “Stampede to Success.” Teachers and staff dressed up in western garb — cowboy hats, stick horses, bandanas — over their black stampede T-shirts and presented a skit focused on the “Four Be’s.” Stampede to Success was the most voted on theme among teachers.

Another focus was the new school-wide volume monitoring measure. Every classroom will have a sheet that showcases the volume range from zero to five, with five being the loudest. Superintendent Bob Callaghan was present and showcased an example of this measure before he read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss to the student body.

“Not only do I have to talk at the right voice, so do you,” Callaghan said to the students in his four voice.

Callaghan also explained that he chose the book because it was one of his favorites and when he coached, he read it to his teams at the beginning of every season.

He also rewarded students who could explain the new measures and who knew the Four Be’s.

“Part of the reason I gave away a dollar is because I want all of you to know all the places you’ll go,” Callaghan said. “All of the things that you learn are like building blocks. When you take a chance, when you take a risk, you can make money some day.”

Berg also set up its own reward system which involves Cardinal Cash and gold coins. Cardinal Cash is rewarded to individuals students who display the four Be’s, and it can be accumulated for various rewards. Gold coins are given to entire classes for proper behavior, and once a class has collected 10 of them, they can be rewarded with many options, including an extra recess or a pizza party.

In an interview after the assembly, Principal Jolene Comer said reading — which was one of the main focal points for the Berg curriculum during the 2012-13 school year — was still a big focus going into this school year.

“Our first goal will be to increase student achievement in reading,” Comer said. “We are implementing a new program this year called ‘Reading Wonders.’ It takes a literacy (based) approach, but it is more rigorous and more challenging than anything we’ve ever done before. So it is really raising the expectations for students, and it will help them to reach those higher levels of expectations.”

Classes began district-wide on Wednesday, and Comer said Berg had a successful first day.

“We had a great first day,” Comer said. “The first day is always about teaching routines and procedures, and we had so many new students and little kindergarteners that need our extra attention to show the what school is like. We had a fantastic day.”

Comer is hoping that her students buyin to Stampede for Success and the Cardinal Code, just as the district has bought into Callaghan’s Kids First policy.

“My expectations are that they follow the Cardinal Code that we just reviewed this morning at our assembly,” Comer said. “So that they are safe, responsible, respectful and caring. I also expect them to come to school everyday with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. Hopefully they leave at the end of the school year much smarter than they are today.”

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