By Lucie Roy
Morinville – Students at Morinville Community High School arrived for second semester Wednesday morning to find they had to walk the gauntlet of staff and teachers waiting to shake their hand.
The unique welcoming is one component of HOWLS (Honour, Ownership, Welcoming, Leadership and Safety), a program that is new to the school this year. Principal Todd Eistetter said HOWLS is led by a team of staff members who work on and develop the program which takes in the entire school. The program began in late spring last year and was fully implemented for September of this school year. Eistetter said the program is meant to inspire positive behaviour with all students. Honour was the theme for the first seven weeks. The program moved on to Ownership and has moved on to the Welcoming with the commencement of second semester Wednesday. With each component students and staff work at taking responsibility for their own actions; the Welcoming component is based on how students present themselves in relation to their peers, and to adults, parents and school staff. It applies as well as to their presentation outside the school boundaries and to strangers.
Wednesday’s activities included a presentation on Welcoming with emphasis on a different component for each letter of the word: welcome, extra- curricular activities, laughter, confidence, opportunities, make your mark and MCHS is for everyone.
The HOWLS program also provides an opportunity to be acknowledged for doing something good. Like Morinville’s Positive Ticketing Program, students caught doing something good receive a ticket which is entered in that week’s draw. The winner receives a free cafeteria lunch, t-shirt or other items. At the end of the month a draw is made for larger prizes, including an iPod, iPod station or $150 gift certificate for the West Edmonton Mall.
But Wednesday’s events included a gift for all students. Former MCHS students Christan Maslyk and Justin Perkins, two members of the Canyon Rose Outfit, played a concert over the lunch hour. Although Canyon Rose Outfit started around 2009 Maslyk and Perkins began playing music together about eight years ago, part of that time while they were students at MCHS.
Whether rewarding positive behaviour with iPods and the like or bringing in some alumni for a concert over lunch, it is believed the incentives help to encourage students to take responsibility and to think of what they are saying or doing. Eistetter said even parents have noticed a positive change in their children’s behaviour as a result of HOWLS and have commented on it.
The MCHC principal explained his school is one of the few taking part in the program and their involvement is attracting attention from other schools.