RESPECT was the theme at Stephen Mack Middle School Class Act program
Beth DeVries has been delivering the message of tolerance, compassion and respect to students at Stephen Mack Middle School (SMMS) for 25 years. The Class Act program is part of a proactive and preventative approach to school violence and student conflict.
Every year, DeVries delivers a positive message that inspires students to treat fellow students with respect and kindness. She casts students and teachers in skits that encourage students to speak out on negative behavior.
Students love cheering for “the good guys.” It might be Superman, Wonder Woman or ordinary, everyday heroes who just do the right thing.
“The program has a very positive effect on both students and staff,” DeVries said.
A few years ago, DeVries, dressed as Wonder Woman, dropped down from the gymnasium balcony to “save the day.” The students went wild!
On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, DeVries and the SMMS teachers entertained the young crowd with a skit about disrespect, intolerance and values. Respect was the theme of this year’s Class Act.
The Class Act programs help students learn skills to intervene with bullying and negative behavior. The theme of this year’s program was respect for others as well as yourself.
After the skit, DeVries talked directly to the students about respecting others as well as awareness of sexual abuse. “Always respect and value yourself. You are a custom -made masterpiece.”
Several students from the sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes were called down from the bleachers to accept a Class Act t-shirt. They were chosen by teachers who witnessed acts of kindness and respect. They were instructed to wear their shirts on Class Act Day, Friday, October, 27, 2023.
One more t-shirt was presented. DeVries announced that the honorary Class Act award winner this year was First Student bus driver Kaji Johnson, known to her young passengers as Angel.
Angel has been driving a First Student bus in the Rockton School District for nearly 20 years. She has driven the SMMS route for two years.
She also worked at Hononegah Community High School, Beloit Memorial High School and the Kinnikinnick School District.
“I absolutely love my job and love the students. There was no better career for me to choose.”
Angel believes that attitude and learning start when the student steps on the bus. “It’s rewarding to watch them. We play the Name Game, to help them know their neighbor. Every Friday is Trivia Day.”
“I just talk to them. I want them to know that someone cares.”
At the close of Class Act, students made their way across the gymnasium to hug their friend Angel and let her know how much they care about her.