By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Rock, Paper, Scissors rules at Park Elementary School
Students create social contracts for behavior
Park Elementary School students, shown with Student & Family Advocate Alana Blessing, talk about the social contract between students and teachers and how this has helped student behavior. From left: Blessing, Devin Olivas, Taycee Gray and Yaneli Garcia. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Students at Park Elementary School who attended Tuesday’s school board meeting talked about how disputes are being settled with games of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and how rules chosen by students are part of a social contract they have with their teachers.

Back at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Great Bend USD 428 staff received professional training in a program called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts.” At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Park Elementary Principal Adam Cline brought in staff to talk about this approach to social-emotional wellbeing, and some of the things the school is doing.

Three students joined Student & Family Advocate Alana Blessing to explain their classes’s social contract. Devin Olivas, Taycee Gray and Yaneli Garcia gave short reports and answered questions.

Devin, a fifth grader, said the contract “helps students by showing them how to behave.”

“Is this a contract that the teacher came up with, or the students?” Blessing asked.

“The students.”

“Okay, and how does that make you feel, by being able to write down what you think is important to help you learn in the classroom?” Blessing continued.

“It gives the student a say in what the rules should be,” he answered.

Rock,  Paper, Scissors

Sixth-grader Yaneli Garcia memorized her portion of the report and spoke without notes.

“I’m going to talk about the new Rock, Paper, Scissors rule,” Yaneli said. “The rule is that every time there’s like a ball or something, and there’s only one and the students are trying to fight for it, you have to play Rock, Paper, Scissors.” The winner gets to have it first and then they are supposed to take turns. “It helps stop fighting and it helps children get along better,” she said.

School board member Aaron Emerson had a question. “Is it just one round, or two out of three?”

While that drew some laughs, Blessing responded that sometimes challenges involving entire classrooms will be decided best two out of three. The winner from one class may even face the winner from another class, “and we’ll see who is the dominant class for the day.”

Board member Deanna Essmiller asked if they have seen changes in classroom behavior.

“The Rock, Paper, Scissors Rule has stopped fighting from other kids,” Yaneli said. “There’s less fighting that the teachers have to deal with.”

Calling Foul

The last speaker was Taycee Gray, a fourth-grade student who was scheduled to represent Park at an earlier school board meeting to talk about Leadership Club but wasn’t able to attend. Instead, she wrote a letter that the board members read. This week, Taycee told her mom it was important that she go to school Tuesday because she had another chance to speak to the school board in person.

Taycee said she likes the Foul Rule in the social contract. If a student says something mean, any student can call “foul” and make a hand signal like a referee. Then the student who fouled has to say two compliments to the other student.

“I think fouls help students get along, so they can have fun and together,” Taycee said. “So we should keep that rule.”

“That puts that student on the spot to come up with two positive words of affirmation to give back,” Blessing said. 

Capturing Kids’ Hearts

“Those are just a few of the things we are working on through Capturing Kids’ Hearts,” Blessing continued. It’s a great program. It makes sense and it’s simple.”

Assistant Superintendent Tricia Reiser reminded the school board that Park isn’t the only school using Capturing Kids’ Hearts. “All of the elementary schools, Great Bend Middle School and Great Bend High School use these strategies.”

Principal Cline said the social contract isn’t just for students.

“We as a staff also have a social contract,” he said. “It’s just recently been finished. So these are some of the things that we incorporated into the classroom to make sure that we have positive interactions with students and staff.”

The school board also heard about Park School’s reading contests and about positive referral notes that students receive for good behavior. If a parent gets a phone call from Cline, it just might be because their child has done something that deserves praise.

Students at Park Elementary School join Instructional Coach Lacey Hofflinger to talk about the school reading contest. From left: Jaslene Bush Relles, Jace Welcher, Hofflinger, Tessa Boone and D’Kari Gray.