Program encourages students to "BPresent"

Program encourages students to "BPresent" and improve attendance
Posted on 04/26/2021

Chronic absenteeism is a national problem that impacts schools, students, families and communities. Students lose opportunities to learn every time they miss a class or Zoom meetings.

Binghamton High School’s Community School Coordinator, Carla Murray-Scott knows how important attendance is to a student’s success. She has been working on the  Be Present BHS (#BPresent) attendance initiative at Binghamton High School for the past year. She started the program in February before the pandemic started and said she had to readjust the program to meet the changing culture of online learning.

#BPresentBHS is a program that provides a positive reinforcement for good attendance rather that a punitive approach, which Scott said ultimately motivates and encourages students to maintain or improve their attendance.

Scott looks at the attendance data and trends for the more than 450 students who have voluntarily signed up for the #BPresentBHS Program. From this group she gives prizes to the students who have the most improved attendance rates and those who have maintained satisfactory attendance. Some of the prizes include gift cards, air pod earbuds and televisions. Scott takes the time to travel to the homes of students to deliver the prizes.

“When I bring the prizes I truly feel like Santa,” Scott said. “I really love seeing the looks on the students’ faces when I arrive. A lot of times the whole family will come out and get involved.”

She said this initiative helps struggling students to develop new and positive behavior patterns related to attendance. Scott also hosts bi-weekly Zoom meetings where prize winners are announced. She said these meetings provide an opportunity for students to develop a sense of community and support their peers.

“These meetings are extremely important,” Scott said. “COVID has significantly impacted the sense of normalcy which previously existed and students’ ability to interact with each other.”

Tenth grade student Faith Rose said #BPresentBHS encourages her to keep up her already good attendance.

“It feels like a bonus for doing good and keeping up my attendance,” she said.

For some students, the program can mean the difference between going to classes and sleeping in. Ninth grade student Caleb Miller says the program has helped him during the pandemic to attend his classes.

“Sometimes I feel like I should just miss a class, or sleep in,” Miller said. “But then I think that I will miss my chance of getting a prize.”

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