Education

Respect pays off for Franklin Elementary students

The Belleville Walmart store gave Franklin School teachers gift cards to use for their classrooms, and toys for students during an assembly on Thursday afternoon. Here, second-grader Elizabeth Ritchey-Bennett, 7, looks at a box of puzzles before she selected them as her gift. Other items included sports balls, dolls, games and two bicycles.
The Belleville Walmart store gave Franklin School teachers gift cards to use for their classrooms, and toys for students during an assembly on Thursday afternoon. Here, second-grader Elizabeth Ritchey-Bennett, 7, looks at a box of puzzles before she selected them as her gift. Other items included sports balls, dolls, games and two bicycles. tvizer@bnd.com

A first-grade boy grabbed the orange-and-yellow football, followed quickly by the orange-and-purple ball triumphantly taken from the prize table by a girl. Dozens of other Franklin Elementary School students took home prizes from Walmart, including two bicycles, on Thursday afternoon from a surprise assembly at the school.

The loudest cheers echoing across the gym were reserved for the teachers who won $50 gift cards to Walmart.

Zoe Terrell, training coordinator at the Walmart in Belleville, said the store provided enough gift cards for Franklin teachers and for staff from the Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative, which educates about 50 students at the school. It’s the second year Walmart has given prizes to Franklin, the school whose students District 118 administrators suggested would most benefit from the prizes.

“Kids get really excited when it’s their teacher,” Terrell said.

The school’s motto is “Striving to achieve respect and responsibility,” Principal Jon Boente told the students. As a reward, teachers nominated their students who showed those characteristics and those names were drawn for the $450 worth of toys. Walmart provided $1,000 in gift cards for the teachers.

I have a lot of children that make very good choices.

Teacher Brittney Odle

What the kindergarten through sixth-grade students picked from the prize tables was up to them, but Boente knew before the assembly who had won the bikes and who would be called to the tables. He didn’t want to be juggling all the little slips of paper from the nominations, so that had been done ahead of time. He said teachers nominated students for being “respectful and responsible,” and that much of the school’s 155-student population qualified.

“I have a lot of children that make very good choices,” said teacher Brittney Odle, who said about 15 of her 25 second-graders were nominated for the drawing.

One of Odle’s students won a bike. Summer Anderson, 7, is “truly one of the kindest little girls,” Odle said. “She’s never moved a clip down,” referring to the classroom management system that helps children monitor their behavior.

Summer has a bicycle at home “but it has a flat tire,” and another bike at her grandmother’s. She planned to ride the bike when she got home.

“Rhae (Delrio) is glowing,” said school secretary Christine Lippert after the assembly of the boy who won the other bike. Rhae “comes to school every day and shows it,” Boente said of the fourth-grader.

Walmart manager Warren Case said the prizes were randomly chosen from the toy aisles, and featured footballs, basketballs, puzzles, posters and crafts.

“I think just about every toy in my childhood (was represented),” he said. “Except for Frozen. And One Direction.”

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