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September 26, 2012

Wass Elementary students aim to be leaders of the pack

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Members of each of the 18 Wolf Packs at Wass Elementary sat in a circle and, some shy and barely audible, named their favorite foods: pizza, cheeseburgers, spaghetti and corndogs.

“We’re learning how we have things in common,” Wass Principal Matt Jensen said.

Wass teachers Sara Clos and Mark Covatio chaired the Character Education Committee, which modeled the pilot Wolf Pack program after the Friendship Circles program at Leonard Elementary School. Over the past year, the committee sought feedback from teachers, students and parents through interviews, conversations and surveys.

“Parents and community members helped design it,” Jansen said. “All of us are on board.”

The packs formed and met for the first time at the school Sept. 20, with parents helping younger students find the right room for their groups.

Wass students from each grade are grouped into the 22 packs of 18 students each that will meet with educators for 25 minutes once a month. Those students will stay with the same pack and pack leader/teacher throughout their time at Wass, Jansen said. 

Wass Parent Teacher Organization co-President Peggy Chinoski said her son Patrick, a fourth-grader, was excited for his first Wolf Pack meeting. She was on hand at the school for the first day of the program to help the kindergartners get to the rooms where their packs were meeting.

“This will teach true leadership,” she said. She praised the “incredibly active” parent base at the school for the success of the first day of the program.

The tenets of the character education program — responsibility, respect, integrity and perseverance — are painted on walls inside the school.

Going forward, these character traits will be used to explore what bullying behavior is and how to prevent it. Jansen noted that those same strategies support student success in math, reading and writing.

“It was great to see it all come together, Clos said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.