Students at Richfield High School are receiving rewards for attendance, citizenship and academic achievement - including a car - in a new "positive recognition" plan which officials say they believe will enhance self-esteem.

The incentive program, initiated by Principal Ivan Rowley and the school's staff, is called "Meet the Cat Expectation." It derives its name from the school's mascot, the wildcat.Perfect weekly attendance earns tickets for prizes that will be presented at the end of the year. Extra tickets are given for perfect attendance during the trimester and more for the entire school year. The grand prize at the end of the year will be a car.

Excellence in academics earns students a "Royal Scarlet" card for a 4.0 grade point average or a "Royal Blue' 'card for an gpa of 3.5. Students must also attend class with regularity, have no truancies and carry at least one "solid" course per trimester, such as languages, science, math or advanced preparation.

Those who earn the cards will be entitled to such advantages as free admission to dances, reserved parking space, a free study day or reimbursement for a pay-to-play sport.

The citizenship part of the pilot project is tagged a "Caught-in-the-Act" program. Teachers pass out tickets on a surprise basis when students are "caught" doing good deeds. The tickets may be redeemed for special prizes.

Officials said schools with similar incentive programs report attendance increases of 2 to 5 percent. Students claim such programs help to keep them "on track" when they get discouraged. The program's effectiveness will be analyzed at the end of the school year, the principal said.