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Griffons surprise Lindbergh fifth graders at Kiwanis Attendance Challenge - News-Press Now

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Surprised fifth graders at Lindbergh Elementary School ate pizza with Missouri Western State University men’s basketball players Wednesday during the Kiwanis Attendance Challenge kickoff.

The St. Joseph Kiwanis chapter is partnering with the fifth grade at Lindbergh to encourage students to come to school every day. For the kickoff, the Kiwanis chapter brought some basketball players, cheerleaders and even Max the Griffon surprised the students to talk about the importance of attending class every day. Then the athletes ate pizza with the students before school ended.

“The Kiwanis’ goal is to empower communities to improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children,” said Colleen Kowich, Kiwanis member.

The Kiwanis want to raise students’ grades, and attendance is the key. Kiwanis’ President Cathie Wyman and Kowich approached fifth-grade teacher Kaleb Johnson about piloting KATCH- Kiwanis Attendance Challenge.

Kiwanis will strive to incorporate two surprise activities a month to encourage the students to attend every day.

“We, as teachers in the building, know when they’re coming but the students won’t know because the point is for them to be here everyday cause you never know when they’re coming back to do a various activity,” Johnson said. “It could be quiz bowl, where the kids are playing “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” with the Kiwanis members, or the athletes coming back and having a basketball/kickball tournament with the students.”

The St. Joseph School District started a “strive for five” campaign this year. They want every student to miss five or less days of school throughout the entire school year. Lindbergh’s goal is for every classroom and student to have 90 percent attendance or higher.

For KATCH, students that maintain the 90 percent attendance goal will get a certificate and a prize or two. All fifth-grade students will participate in the Kiwanis group surprises though.

“(The kids) hear us teachers and adults harp at them all the time about how important attendance is,” Johnson said. “But, by being able to see athletes at Missouri Western that our kids look up to because they want to be a basketball player or a football player and really hearing from them how important attendance is, we are hoping that will get them motivated to be here.”

Missouri Western donated tickets to both the men’s and women’s basketball games Saturday for all of Lindbergh’s fifth graders and their parents. The Kiwanis club paid for buses to transport the students to and from the games.

Johnson is hopeful this program will be a success.

“It’s important that you’re here,” Johnson said. “If you’re not in those seats, you’re missing out on those learning opportunities and you’re missing out on those skills that are going to be needed down the road.”

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