It's recess at Bonneville Elementary School - one of two Utah schools just recognized as among the best in the country.
An almost constant flow of youngsters files into the principal's office with small cuts, scrapes or headaches. The secretary and teachers pressed into service stop to give ice packs and sympathy to students in the adjoining first-aid room. A sign on the wall indicates this room is really "The Hug Center."The bell rings and, like the children returning to their classrooms, Shauna Carl, the principal, returns to her office. Some days she returns from playing hopscotch or softball with the kids, but this time she has been making her daily birthday deliveries to some of her students.
Such deliveries, she said, consist of a birthday ribbon, a pencil and a hug.
"It's a personal touch that the kids have so they don't just see me in an adversarial role," she said. Part of that "personal touch" includes trying to learn the names of each of her 540 students. "I know about two-thirds of them by name," she said.
Such personal touches are among many reasons why Bonneville is a winner in the 1987-88 Elementary School Recognition Program conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. J.A. Taylor Elementary in Centerville is the only other school in the state to receive the prestigious national award this year.
Nearly everyone at Bonneville will tell you that the award is well deserved. Bonneville is exemplary, Carl said. "It's public school at its finest."
Michelle Killian, a sixth-grade teacher, also sees Bonneville as outstanding. Teachers, she said, have an interest in helping each other and in helping the students. "I've had experience at other schools . . . and there's definitely something different about our school.
"We also have a phenomenal principal," she said.
Carl admitted that she plays an important role in the success of the school, but she shares credit with her students' parents.
"We have a wonderful, supportive community that values education," she said. Parents participate in the education of their children by encouraging homework study, by developing feelings of responsibility in their children and by volunteering services and funding for activities and materials.
"Without active parent support, you can only do so much," Carl said. "Fortunately for us, education goes on at home." Part of that education includes personal values.
During recess, a student gave the principal a quarter found on the playground. Carl said she promised the student she would put that quarter in the lost and found. Such occurrences are not rare at Bonneville, she said.
When the school was selected as one of the national finalists, the Department of Education sent a team of experts to examine the curriculum and ask "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds" of questions of faculty and students. "It was a very rigorous evaluation," Carl said, but winning the award "has been very exciting."