Montevallo rewarding students for attendance

Seniors (l-r) Chlo’e Bertschinger, JD Hanna and Jacob Holmes, MHS students who had perfect attendance during a week in September and were rewarded with some free time during seventh period. (Contributed)

Seniors (l-r) Chlo’e Bertschinger, JD Hanna and Jacob Holmes, MHS students who had perfect attendance during a week in September and were rewarded with some free time during seventh period. (Contributed)

By MICHELLE ADAMS / Guest Columnist

September is Attendance Awareness Month, and Montevallo High School is celebrating students with perfect attendance by rewarding them each week with a bit of free time with friends, snacks and prizes.
The MHS attendance incentive plan was coordinated by school administration, the registrar’s office and Donna Dickson, Promotion Coach of the two-year Johns Hopkins University grant, “Alabama Graduation Initiative: Getting to the Finish Line.”
“Every day a child is in school is a day of learning,” Dickson said. “Research has shown that a child who is chronically absent scores lower on standardized tests, and often performs poorly in academic classes because of a failure to make up missed work.”
According to the Alabama Department of Education, there were 604,312 absences last September and 7 million absences for the entire 2013-2014 school year, equaling more than 49 million hours of missed instruction. Additionally, Johns Hopkins University research shows that absenteeism as early as sixth grade can be an indicator that a student will drop out of school.
The reality is that a student who is often absent gets behind in make-up work, feels defeated and then proceeds to be absent even more. Despite the fact that there is work that can be made up, there are also class activities and discussion that cannot be replicated, which ultimately affects future success in a class.
Teachers and administrators hope that by incentivizing perfect attendance, students will find that good attendance is beneficial beyond the snacks and prizes.
“We have given away iTunes gift cards, gift cards to local restaurants and jump drives,” Dickson said.  “Future drawings include headphones as well as a 24-inch HDTV.  Hopefully, with such substantial prizes looming in the future, students will want to maintain their perfect attendance to have a chance to win.”
Of course, good attendance not only enters a student’s name in a drawing, but that student also gains important course knowledge by being present in classes.
“By offering awards for attendance, students are encouraged to be here regularly,” junior Kelli Sellers, a perfect attendance winner, said.  “Good attendance helps you to keep up with activities, and what is going on in class. Plus, you don’t have to worry about missing assignments.”