PBIS program shows students are better behaved (626)

LACONIA — Since its introduction throughout the Laconia School District in 2014, the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, program appears to be achieving its intended result by reducing the number of incidents requiring referrals for disciplinary action according to data presented to the School Board this week.

PBIS rests on the notion that appropriate behavior can be taught just like core subjects of the academic curriculum by setting positive expectations for students rather than telling them what not to do. Presented on matrices prominently displayed in all five schools, the expectations signal the appropriate behavior in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria, restroom and school bus as well as on school grounds and at school events. Expectations are tailored to specific locations and activities within the schools, but at the same time are consistent. For example, if cell phones are restricted in one classoom, they are restricted in all classrooms.

Maureen Tracey, the district coordinator of the program, explained that the program aims to maximize the time students spend learning by reducing the number referrals to the office for inappropriate behavior, which take both the student and the teacher out of the classroom. She said that PBIS includes a software program that gathers and arranges behavioral data, which identifies the student and transgression, along with the date, time and place of the incident leading to a referral.

McKenzie Harrington-Bacote, the Safe Schools and Healthy Students Administrator, told the board that while all students benefit by meeting consistent expectations, some require extra support and others more intensive. individual direction.

Tracey and Harrington-Bacote presented two measures of progress, the number of "office discipline referrals" and the number students referred more than once. At Em Street School from September to December the average referrals per day per month decreased from between four and eight to between two and four this year compared to last. During the same period average referrals per day per month at Pleasant Street School decreased from eight to less than four every month. At the same time, the number of students who were referred more than once declined at both schools. At Woodland Heights School, where average referrals per day per month topped eight in 2014, the decline was less dramatic and more uneven, but there as well the number of students referred more than once shrank.

At Laconia Middle School, referrals averaged between 12 and 16 per day per month in 2014, but this year have decreased to eight or less while the number of students referred has also declined.

At Laconia High School, the number of referrals during the first semester dropped from 1,606 in 2014 to 548 in 2015. During the first semester for the past three years there has been a marked decline in "problem behaviors." Incidents involving cell phones has decreased from 132 to 95 to 31. Use of abusive language has fallen from 78 incidents to 47, While there were 178 cases of disruption in 2013 and 2014, there were only 57 in 2015. Truancy has fallen from 238 cases in 2013 and 204 in 2014 to 49 in 2015. And the number of incidents of insubordination, which rose from 227 in 2013 to 332 in 2014, dropped to 146 in 2015.

Harrington-Bacote said that surveys of parents of students at Elm Street School found that majorities of between two-thirds and three-quarters believe that PBIS has improved both the academic performance and routine behavior of their children.

PBIS is funded by two federal grants, one of $2.2 million that will expire in September 2017 and another of $1.01 million that will expire in September 2019. Harrington-Bacote stressed that building the capacity to sustain the program beyond its initial funding is among her highest priorities. She noted $1.6 billion in federal funding to address the mental and behavioral needs of students will become available in August 2016, with school districts serving the greatest numbers of students living in poverty eligible for the largest share of the money.

Amy Annis Tournament celebrates a ‘spitfire’ of a woman with volleyball this Sunday

Samantha Annis, Amy Colby and Lydia Bartlett, pictured at the first Amy Annis Volleyball Tournament. The 5th annual tournament will be held on Sunday at Gilford Middle and High School. (Courtesy photo)

As an athlete at Gilford High School, Amy (Annis) Colby was a force to be reckoned with. Joan Forge, who coached and taught at Gilford, said she was an outstanding athlete no matter the sport. She played basketball and softball, and helped lead her volleyball team to its first state championship. Then, in her senior year, she joined the newly formed club soccer team, even though it meant passing up on the chance to accompany the volleyball team on another championship run.
To Forge, that was just who she was, someone who identified what she wanted and immediately set out to pursue it.
“Amy did not think twice. She left that volleyball program, she was happy to be on the club soccer team,” said Forge, noting that Colby was as dedicated to her academics as she was to athletics. Considering her determined nature, Forge thought it fitting that Colby would pursue a career in law. Her nature also made it all the more shocking to the Gilmanton and Gilford communities when Colby – then known by Annis, her maiden name – was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the young age of 28. Despite the diagnosis, Colby continued her life, graduating from Massachusetts School of Law in 2010 and in 2011, marrying David Colby, a police officer she had met in law school.All the while, though, the cancer was progressing. By 2011, Colby was undergoing experimental treatment that her insurance company wasn’t covering, so Forge approached the family to see if there was anything that she could do to help.
That conversation gave birth to the Amy Annis Volleyball Tournament, which will be held this year at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 30. The tournament will feature 16 teams, entry fees from which will be added to proceeds from the bake sale table, and the funds will benefit breast cancer research as well as a scholarship fund in Amy’s name.
Though the first tournament was held to help the family with expenses, Forge and her husband, Rick, who also coaches at Gilford, have kept the event going. Forge said it was a promise she made to Colby back in 2011, the first time the tournament was held.
Colby died on Sept. 25, 2012. She was 32.
“We weren’t sure she was going to make that first tournament because we could see how sick she was... She was so overwhelmed by all the support she got. I promised her, we’re going to do this every year in your name.”
Lydia Bartlett is Colby’s sister, ten years younger. Colby was a role model, Bartlett said.
“She was a spitfire,” she said. She remembers her sister as aggressive, sometimes difficult, but lots of fun to be around. “Nothing was going to get in her way, ever.”
Bartlett said her sister was someone who relied upon herself to accomplish her goals. The tournament made her recognize just how much love and support was surrounding her.
“She always did things on her own. It was definitely eye-opening for her to see other people doing things for her, that she didn’t have to do everything on her own.”
For the family, Bartlett said, the event is a chance to remember Amy through an athletic competition, something she would have relished.
“We have so much fun,” said Bartlett. “It’s a way for us to give back to everyone that’s helped us along the way, and helped Amy along the way.”
Forge said the event is similarly personal. “For me, I never had kids. The athletes that we coach, we treat them like they’re our daughters ... When someone like Amy passes away, it’s like we lost a daughter.”

Pond Hockey tournament to be held on Waukewan

Lake Waukewan in Meredith has plenty of ice and is already supporting ice fishing shacks and a small hockey rink. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

MEREDITH — "When you can't change the wind, adjust your sails," said author H. Jackson Brown Jr. That's a lesson well-learned by Scott Crowder, founder of the New England Pond Hockey Classic. Ice has been very slow to form on Lake Winnipesaukee's Meredith Bay this winter, and it doesn't look like there will be enough ice to host the seventh annual event at its typical. Crowder announced yesterday that the popular and growing three-day tournament will be held less than a mile away, on Lake Waukewan, where there's plenty of solid ice.
The 2016 New England Pond Hockey Classic will be held Feb. 5 through 7. More than 250 teams of players are expected to participate.
"We have official word from Mother Nature that the 2016 event will be on Waukewan," Crowder said yesterday. He had hoped that the recent cold weather would finally freeze the surface of Lake Winnipesaukee, especially Meredith Bay, but high winds prevented ice formation.
"Looking at the temperatures this week, we thought we'd be closer than we are by now," he said. Nearly all of Meredith Bay is still open water, leaving little hope that there will be at least 10 inches of ice by the time the teams arrive. Fortunately, it's a much different story on the smaller Lake Waukewan.
"It's a tale of two lakes," said Crowder.
On Waukewan, "we're approaching that 10 inches of ice pretty quick."
Crowder has had to move his tournament before. Poor ice conditions forced the event to be held on Waukewan in 2012, so Crowder is familiar with what needs to happen to pull this event off.
"It's nice to have the plan B alternative," he said, adding that with so many teams coming from out of the area, changing the date of the event would be a last-case scenario.
While located just on the other side of downtown Meredith from Meredith Bay, Waukewan has a couple of hurdles that the usual location doesn't. The first is that there's no large-scale parking facilities nearby, so all participants and spectators will have to park at a designated remote lot and ride a shuttle to the tournament.
Additionally, Lake Waukewan is the water supply for the town of Meredith, and as such carries more restrictions that does Meredith Bay. For Crowder, that means no fires on the ice, no dogs, no glass bottles, no littering and no vehicles.
"We're not putting anything on the ice past our rinks," he said. He is grateful to Middleton Building Supply, which is allowing the event to use its property to locate the tournament village, which will include vendors and other necessary facilities. Without that business's help, Crowder said the event might not be possible.
Since its founding in 2010, the Pond Hockey Classic has become a highlight of the year, not just for hockey players but also for local residents who enjoy watching the game played in its purest form – outside and on natural ice.
"We want everyone to come down and experience the event, just like when it is on Meredith Bay," said Crowder.