A trip to the store is a daily occurrence for most, for the students of Boonville’s LSE Middle School, a trip to the “Pirate Store” is a monthly reward.
The Pirate Store program was established by LSE Assistant Principal Curtis Walk at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year as a reaction to disciplinary referrals to the schools office.
“Pirate Store is a positive behavior incentive for our kids to act better, have honesty, have responsibility and help each other out,“ explained Walk.
Community businesses including A&W, Casey’s General Store, State Farm and Wal-Mart donate a cadre of items to be purchased on the day predetermined by administrators near the end or beginning of a month. Even school staff have contributed items to the store, maintaining the status of the program as a non-profit, community-based entity. Purchases are made by students with “Pirate Bucks.” The currency is awarded to students for reasons spanning courteous actions in the classroom to academic success.
“We want to prepare them (students) for the high school and to be good role models and citizens in the community and when they’re doing good things they can be rewarded as well as help those kids that struggle and help them be rewarded as well,” said Walk of the impact of the program on students.
Walk attributes the Pirate Store program to an estimated 50 percent decrease in disciplinary referrals to the his office. The program has also led to heightened academic success by students.
Aside from rewarding students and curtailing negative behaviors, the program teaches financial responsibility. According to Walk, rather than immediately spending Pirate Bucks, some students save them until finding items they desire more than those available.
“Just to see them be successful; it’s all about the students and getting their best qualities,” elaborated Walk on continuing the program, “We plan on doing this (Pirate Store) in the future for a long time as long as we can maintain it.”
Student parents, despite reservations to the program was introduced have embraced its success.
Inspiration for the Pirate Store is attributed to similar programs in place in area schools like Jefferson Junior High School in Columbia, MO.
“We kind of run our own project here and feed off those other schools. We just looked at different ways to get our kids to be better in class, more responsible, organized and get ready for the high school,” concluded Walk.