Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Eight young women brought energy and enthusiasm for a new program that will be implemented at Baker High School this year to the Baker School Board Thursday night.

Students who spoke Thursday about the Renaissance program were seniors Abby Baker, Hannah Johnson, Emily Black and Alayna Callaway; juniors Laura Illingsworth and Jazmine Labonte; and sophomores Renee Blincoe and Makayla Mills.

Five BHS staff members, Principal Greg Mitchell, Assistant Principal Chelsea Hurliman, and teachers, Dawna Blincoe, Adriene Oster and Toni Zikmund accompanied the students to Orlando, Florida, in July for the 2018 Jostens Renaissance National Conference to learn more about the program. The conference theme was “The School Culture Revival.”

Mitchell explained that the students applied to attend the training last spring. They will be charged with promoting the program’s core values to other students, he said.

A Renaissance class taught by Zikmund will be offered to students during sixth period when the new school year gets under way.

In their presentation to the Board, the students explained that the Renaissance program is different than the leadership program that has been in place for many years at BHS.

The leadership group, which includes Associated Student Body officers and class officers, has oversight of activities and makes decisions for the school. That group will continue to make decisions on matters such as how student body funds are spent on clubs and activities.

The Renaissance program, on the other hand, will be led by a team of educators, support staff, and student leaders who work to improve school climate and culture.

With a theme of “No More Ghosts!” the program aims to include all students in activities with the goal of working to ensure that all students feel included, the students told the board.

“Our goal as a renaissance team is to make everyone feel like part of the BHS family and no one is left out,” a slide on a Power Point presentation shown to the Board stated.

Students said they walked away from the conference with lots of ideas about how to implement the program in their school.

Students gave these examples of how they will accomplish that goal with special activities:

• Motivation Monday, which will include music playing first thing Monday morning to get everyone ready for the week.

• Positive message to be displayed on Post-it notes placed throughout the school.

•Ice cream socials scheduled routinely for each class — freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors — to bring the classes together more as a community.

• Presentations of honorary diplomas each year to teachers who students believe have helped them succeed.

By including all students, the Renaissance program hopes to improve attendance, which in turn could lead to a boost in grade-point averages and higher graduation rates, the students said.

Success is gained by following the program’s five R’s, which call for the school to respect, recognize, reward and reinforce to gain results.

They plan to improve school spirit with pep assemblies that will include games involving mass numbers of students and enlist “hype squads” to increase enthusiasm among students. And improvement awards will be presented.

“Staffulty,” the entire group of school workers including teachers, janitors, cooks, bus drivers and all support staff, will be recognized throughout the year. Monthly treats or special signs will presented to show gratitude throughout the year.

To ensure that all students feel included, the team will bring everyone together to work to break down barriers between students. Polls will be distributed to all students to provide them a voice in important school decisions.

During Pep Night, an annual event organized around Homecoming Week, the team hopes to develop ways to involve more students.

For class competitions, rules will be clarified and more students will be encouraged to participate by offering fun and competitive games.

In February, the team hopes to encourage students with a Love Week activity in which they spend 10 minutes every morning, Monday through Thursday, writing down what they like to do on a slip of paper. Students then pass their slips around and other students write what they love about each other.

The team also hopes to encourage more staff members to participate in high school graduation to acknowledge the impact all teachers have had on helping students reach their goals. They also hope to make “staffulty” who are leaving or retiring feel as appreciated as possible, they said.

The students asked the Board members for support through funding, advertising, community partnerships,volunteers and participation in the program. They pointed directors to the Josten website:

Vice chair Katie Lamb and director Julie Huntington attended the meeting in person. Andrew Bryan attended by phone and Chris Hawkins, board chair, and director Kevin Cassidy were absent.