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THS students earn trip to Roxy with good behavior

Last Thursday, 172 Tharptown high schools skived off school and hit up downtown Russellville for a movie.

Of course, it was a special trip organized by the school and the Franklin County Arts and Humanities Council to reward the students who have exhibited good behavior over the last nine weeks. It’s all part of a program new to Tharptown High School this year called the Class 1 Rewards program.

“We punish the bad kids, but we don’t always reward the good kids,” said teacher Gary Gunderman, who introduced the program at Tharptown. “This rewards good kids and hopefully will sway the fence-straddlers and make them think, ‘Hey, if I do things right, I get to do something nice like this.’”

The Historic Roxy’s lighted marquee welcomes THS students.
The Historic Roxy’s lighted marquee welcomes THS students.

For $6 – half of which was subsidized by donations from local businesses – students got a popcorn, a bag of M&Ms and a drink, along with a morning out of school to enjoy “Fred Claus” at the Historic Roxy Theatre. It was the second Class 1 Rewards trip of the year.

“We hope it’s something we can do with some of the other schools,” said Cheri McCain, secretary of the arts and humanities council. “It’s just providing a nice event … we’re always looking for new ideas and branching out. We do know some of our schools have been going to the Florence area and taking business over there, so we’re so excited to see (THS) staying here in Russellville. Hopefully it will inspire the students to come back to other events we have here at the Roxy with their parents.”

McCain said this was the first time the Roxy has hosted a school group.

At THS, it’s down to the teachers to track infractions and report students’ who behavior makes them ineligible to participate in the reward trip. After the first nine-week period, the school took the students to Spring Park in Tuscumbia. The nearly-free trip gave the students the opportunity to enjoy the thrill rides and purchase ice cream at the Palace. Future trips might include laser tag or bowling. Gunderman said they hope to plan a bigger trip at the end of the year for the students who have exhibited year-long good behavior.

Gunderman said they see the program making positive impact on classroom culture. As far as measurable results, Principal Barry Laster said office referrals have decreased.

“It’s been very successful,” Laster said. “It helps the whole school with the entire educational process – you don’t have as many disturbances and disruptions … Hopefully it will grow county-wide.”

Laster said he appreciated Gunderman suggesting the program, which provides a more proactive, as opposed to reactive, approach to encouraging good behavior.

Businesses donating to the special trip for THS students were Community Spirit Bank, G&G Steel, Lane Pharmacy Group, Franklin Homes, Dr. Kevin Kelly, Papa John’s Pizza and Colbert County CO-OP. Gunderman and Laster said they hope more businesses will donate to the school’s efforts to incentivize good behavior and reward star students.