Rocky Mountain Elementary hosts March Madness
March is arguably college sports’ most exciting month with NCAA basketball gyms around the country packed with screaming fans for March Madness. Rocky Mountain Elementary School hosted its own March Madness week, which also included a full gym of cheering students, but had a different and more important goal.
Rocky Mountain Elementary dedicated a this week to stressing the importance of school and the impact education will have on their students’ futures. The week finished with an assembly on Friday to celebrate the students’ hard work before spring break, and featured successful students from Colorado Mesa University.
“The beauty of March Madness is that it enables our students to start to visualize their futures and they begin to tie their hopes and dreams into the importance of education,” said Carrie Bollinger, assistant principal. “They see role models such as our staff members and the students from CMU share their motivational stories.”
All students have been writing about what they want to be when they grow up, including attending college and what they hope to study. Willie Hinojosa, student support coordinator, said the writing is important because it plants future possibilities in their minds early.
Among the guest speakers was CMU student Ethan Johnson, a Grand Junction native. Johnson talked to the students about their similar situations growing up and how it might not always be easy.
“I think it’s important for these kids to see role models who emphasize hard work, especially from someone who grew up in their shoes and experienced the same environment,” said Johnson. “Money in this area won’t always get kids to school, so working hard academically and making the most of what they have will set them up for bright futures.”
Students were awarded raffle tickets throughout the week for good behavior, hard work and perseverance, including perfect attendance and turning in homework. The tickets were entered into a drawing for four new bicycles.
“Giving incentives like the bikes allows the kids to look forward to a goal and gets them focused on school, knowing they will be rewarded if they work hard,” said Hinojosa. “Once they start working for a goal it gets them practicing academics and also gets the parents involved and aware of what is going on with their kids.”
One of the bike winners was fifth-grader Lizzy Jacks, whose smile lit up the gym after hearing her name called for the blue Mongoose bike.
“I was so excited because I never get called up but I’ve been here every day and doing my homework so I won the bike,” Jacks said. “I’m going to ride it all break and on my birthday. It’s cool because my neighbor has a green Mongoose and maybe he can teach me how to ride mine.”