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Wuggazer: Class matters in D-99 high schools

It’s probably no surprise to you that at District 99, we work hard to challenge and prepare our students academically.

Results prove that we’re on the right track: North High and South High are top-ranked high schools nationally, and our graduates leave well prepared for their future endeavors.

We are proud, but also know that it takes more than just smarts for students to succeed in life. Strength of character is as equally important, which is why we created a program that is focused on teaching students how to be respectful, responsible and engaged. At South High this program is called “Mustang Way” and at North High it is “Positively North.” 

To ensure we are consistent and clear, we have meticulously defined what being “respectful, responsible and engaged” looks like in action – whether in the classroom, cafeteria or hallway. For example:

• Being respectful means to show up to class on time;

• Giving your full attention to not only the teacher but also other students is the responsible thing to do during class discussions; and

• Engaged students ask their teacher questions and seek extra resources if they are confused. 

Each month, teachers provide a lesson focused on a specific behavior and lead discussions to explore the topic in more depth. 

We have just started our third year of the program, and our standards are now well known and practiced by everyone at our schools, students and staff alike. Staff members also acknowledge students who exhibit positive actions. Everyone likes to be rewarded, and thanks to the many community businesses that donate goods and services to us, we can keep students motivated with incentives. 

We have concrete evidence that our efforts are working, and creating a more positive school environment. For example, when we compare disciplinary information before and after implementing the program, we see improvement. Beyond the data, though, are the stories we hear almost daily of students who are living the standards. We are encouraged, day by day and lesson by lesson, that our students are developing good habits. 

Our students clearly understand what it means to show the “Mustang Way” and to be “Positively North” – messages we hope will resonate long after graduation.

Scott Wuggazer is the assistant superintendent of special services at District 99

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