NBA star to help tardiness at Westland

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When in high school, there are several reasons why a student might roll into class late. If your school offers you a chance to win an all expense paid trip to see an NBA game with courtside seats, would you manage to be to class on time?

The administrators at Westland High School sure hope so.

"We did not meet the state indicators for attendance," said Principal Kathryn Buckerfield. "The state has the bar set at 93 percent and we are at 92.3 percent. That isn’t bad, but it could be better. Tardies is more of an issue for us."

To curtail the tardiness trend, they have teams up with the Clarity Creative Institute and the Michael Redd Foundation to support a program called Beat the Bell. It is an anti-truancy initiative that assists in the improvement of classroom participation and school attendance.

Starting Jan. 14, every time a student is in the classroom before the bell rings, their name will be entered into a drawing. At the end of the contest (in 30 days), one lucky student and their parent or guardian will hop a flight to Wisconsin to see Michael Redd and his Milwaukee Bucks in action.

The grand prize will also include a one night stay in a deluxe hotel, private car service to chauffeur you around town, a VISA gift card for meals and gifts, and a VIP pre-game warm-up passes.

"Say if a student has seven classes per day, and is on time for each of them, at the end of the contest they could have their name entered into the drawing at least 210 times," Buckerfield said.

The Michael Redd Foundation usually just works with Columbus Public Schools, as he is a graduate of West High School. Westland is the only school in the South-Western City School District that will participate in Beat the Bell.

"Our Linkage Coordinator, Lonnie Landry had previous knowledge of the project and set it up for us," said Buckerfield.

The other schools in Franklin County that are participating in Beat the Bell are East, South, West and Mifflin High Schools, as well as Champion Middle School. One student from each school will win the Get to School Getaway.

"This is for all grades, all classes," said Buckerfield. "And grades (the academic kind) have nothing to do with winning it."

The Westland administration has also implemented an anti-truancy program, even before hearing about Beat the Bell.

"We had a December attendance challenge," Buckerfield said. "For two weeks, a student who had no absences or tardiness would receive a pizza from Flyers. Then we would have another contest and they would win something else, like ice cream sandwiches or subs."

Buckerfield added that students with perfect attendance and were in class on time, could also receive a digital camera, an iPod or Ohio State sweatshirts.

"The bottom line is that if kids are not in class, they are not going to learn. Westland doesn’t have a horrible attendance grade, but we do have a tardy problem, and we’ve focused on that for the last nine weeks."

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