A unique bikes giveaway showed the importance of getting Butler County kids to school

A unique giveaway of new bicycles to some Hamilton elementary school students who had perfect attendance this year showed the importance schools place on getting kids to class to ensure they are updated on their studies.

Also all Ohio’s public school districts are required to report their average daily student attendance to the Ohio Department of Education, and that information is included in each school system’s annual report card.

But most Butler County districts don’t make as a big a deal in rewarding attendance as did officials at Hamilton Schools’ Fairwood Elementary, which surprised six students who hadn’t missed a school day all year with new bikes donated by a local Walmart.

Lakota Schools – Butler County’s largest district and the 8th biggest in Ohio – leaves it up to each of its 23 school buildings ho to recognize attendance, and the district has one of the highest daily average attendance rates in the region.

“We have a 98.5 percent attendance rate in our district,” said Lakota spokesperson Betsy Fuller of the 16,500-student school system. “Students with perfect attendance are celebrated in several ways at individual schools throughout the district. Some display names in a school (trophy) showcase each quarter, alongside those who achieve honor roll.

“Certificates given at the end of the school year, as well as quarterly snack coupons for the school café. And we also have an elementary school that throws a monthly popcorn party for the class with the highest attendance percentage at each grade level.

Outside of Fairwood Elementary in Hamilton, the novelty of giving away more costly gifts is still not done. Instead, certificates and student assembly recognition is still the norm.

Middletown schools, which has an annual average daily attendance rate of 93 percent for its 6,137 students, also leaves such matters up to individual schools, which often provide certificates for attendance achievements, said spokesperson Elizabeth Beadle.

Edgewood schools raises the bar further for providing student recognition, said spokesperson Pam Pratt.

“We did not give any gifts or awards for perfect attendance during the 2018-19 school year. We did, however, recognize a senior who achieved perfect attendance for all four years at Edgewood High School,” said Pratt.

Holli Morrish, spokesperson for Talawanda Schools, said there are no formal programs at its district but the high school offers a practical and appealing incentive for seniors of avoiding their final exams.

“The opportunity to not have to take finals is a serious incentive, and Talawanda High School students are very responsive to this,” said Morrish.

But maybe more districts should mimic the Hamilton elementary, said Fairwood Elementary school parent Johnny Warren.

“Any time they (students) don’t go into school they get behind with their studies. Plus it gives them a feeling what it’s like in the real world when they grow up,” said Warren.

He appreciated Fairwood school officials highlighting the importance of attendance through the bicycle give-away at pep assembly for the entire school.

“We give them the encouragement from home but it’s good that they (school officials) are reinforcing it at school,” he said.

Fairwood Principal Matthew Crapo, said “attendance is huge and it sets you up for success later in life.”

“If you are expected to be somewhere (as an adult) and you’ve practiced for 12 years in school, you can just carry that on as a life skill,” said Crapo.

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