Sawyer students meet for food, games

BOARD, not bored

Sierra Nurkala, left, and Cleo Adams, third-graders at K.I. Sawyer Elementary School, play Yahtzee on Monday during the monthly BOARD meeting at the school. Kids who meet certain criteria are treated to free food and games after school. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)


Journal Staff Writer

K.I. SAWYER — It’s not every day a grade schooler wants to go to a board meeting.

At K.I. Sawyer Elementary School, though, it’s a BOARD meeting — and it involves things such as good food, Scrabble Junior and camaraderie instead of listening to budget reports.

BOARD, in fact, is an acronym.

Linda Wagner, who teaches the third-graders involved in the program, asked the students taking part in the program on Monday what the letters stand for, and they came up with the answers: B for Behavior, O for On task, A for Attendance and Attitude, and R and D for Relate to Development.

It’s a select group.

Wagner listed behaviors that will get a student invited to a BOARD session.

“They can’t miss more than two days in a month’s time,” Wagner said. “They’re attempting their work, their attitude’s great and they’re trying all the time.”

A little incentive can go a long way.

“I want to come kids to school ready to learn because there’s a huge difference between second and third grade,” Wagner said. “The beginning of the year, they’re, like, ‘Third grade’s hard,’ and there was a lot of, not giving up on themselves, but I wanted them to be ready to learn.”

So, she pondered about what she could do to better their educational experience.

That became the BOARD program.

Monday marked the fourth time students gathered for a meeting, which Wagner said takes place on the same night as the Gwinn Area Community Schools Board of Education meeting.

The youngsters have the opportunity to play games such as Battleship, Othello, Yahtzee, Uno, Simon, What’s Their Name? and Tip Topple.

These games are reserved for BOARD participants.

“They cannot use them for recess time,” Wagner said. “No other time.”

The kids also get a meal.

“I’ve had something different to eat every time,” Wagner said.

On Monday, they feasted on pizza, cookies and hot cocoa.

During a previous meeting, they had chicken, green beans and rice.

“I bring the food in a crock pot and usually put it under my desk,” Wagner said, “and they’re, ‘What’s that smell?’ — and then the kids usually realize, ‘Oh, yeah, it must be BOARD meeting night.'”

Wagner said she sent the invitations to Monday’s meeting on Jan. 15.

“If they don’t get an invitation, they have no clue it’s coming up, because I don’t want kids to know that they’re missing it,” Wagner said.

However, some have caught on, she said, but the students who have never attended a meeting have no clue what they’re missing.

Unfortunately, sometimes illness strikes and they can’t come.

The kids who were there on Monday, though, got to play Yahtzee, a game that involves rolling five dice to try to get rolls such as a large straight, a full house and the ultimate roll, a five-of-a-kind, or Yahtzee.

“One night we were playing this, she got the first Yahtzee,” Wagner said of one student, “and then three other people after her got it. It was kind of comical.”

The game relies on strategy and arithmetic skills as well as luck.

However, Wagner noted they use a calculator to check their math.

“Battleship and Othello have been the favorite,” Wagner said, “but they asked to play this tonight, which I’m glad, because it shows endurance and determination.”

The students do, after all, have to wait their turns before rolling the dice.

Caleb Bash appeared to enjoy Monday’s session.

“We get to have free food and we get to play board games afterwards,” Caleb said.

Wagner said the BOARD program works.

“If someone is having a grumpy day or a bad day, I’ll say, ‘All right, I’ll get the BOARD meeting list out,’ and they’ll just say, ‘Oh, OK. I’ll work,'” Wagner said.

So, a little motivation can go a long way.

“It’s a program to reward them for being ready to learn and being at school,” Wagner said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.