By: Bruce Liska
The Patriot Bucks system, which was supposed to reward students for their actions, isn’t as popular as intended. On Thursdays, the line for the snack counter, where your Patriot Bucks are spent, isn’t always there. Snack items such as chips are available to buy, but the students still won’t go.
The idea behind the Patriot Bucks is a good idea. Students who do good things should be rewarded for their actions.
“The Patriot Buck system was created because teachers and administration really wanted to help develop behaviors that will help them be successful in school and in life. Academic behaviors and normal life behaviors, and so we wanted to have a way to reward those behaviors in all students, because sometimes when you are rewarded for something, sometimes you do it again,” said Mrs. Suzanne Irwin
However, the Patriot Bucks system is not a good way to reward students for doing good things; it has a lot of flaws. For example, some teachers don’t give out Patriot Bucks, while others give out too many.
“Four Patriot Bucks for every phone that [students] would give me at the beginning of class. I probably stopped doing that maybe a month or two ago because the kids that weren’t on their phones anyways were the only ones giving me their phones eventually so it kind of lost its purpose, but I would like to get back to giving out Patriot Bucks again as an incentive,” said Mrs. Amanda Smith.
Another flaw in the system is what is available to buy at the snack counter where the Patriot Bucks are spent. Snacks and water are available to buy from the stand, but students want more than that. Not to mention, you can turn to your right and walk fifteen steps and get water for free.
“I would want to purchase Doritos, popcorn, Gatorade, and assorted candies with five patriot bucks,” said an anonymous 11th grader.
Mrs. Irwin, who helped create the Patriot Bucks system is well aware that there are plenty of flaws in the Patriot Bucks system. She already has some ideas to help fix these flaws.
“We need more people to operate the window where students can turn in Patriot Bucks for treats. Right now we offer food, water, and candy. I believe that candy is what is most interesting to students, but there may be things that be even more interesting. When you’re giving out Patriot Bucks, it only works if they like the things they are getting in return. And also, since this is the first year we did it, I’m not sure it’s being implemented the same way in each classroom, so that’s something for teachers to work on,” said Mrs. Irwin.
Students could also go to Staples or Office Depot (or any other store similar), and just copy as many of them as they wanted to. At Office Depot, it costs $1.42 to print out ten color copies (It costs $0.71 per side). Currently, chips sell for five Patriot Bucks and candy sells for 10.
“There would certainly be disciplinary actions if you tried to counterfeit the system. That would take a lot of thought and effort and so we would actually try to get that person to help us. It would be easier to do things to get Patriot Bucks than to go through all that work to copy them,” said Mrs. Irwin.
Mrs. Irwin believes in the safeguards in place to prevent students from copying them.
“It’s really hard to copy the Patriot Bucks. They have color and they have a hologram on them. We designed them that way so that they would be difficult to copy, because I thought that copying [the Patriot Buck] was one way they could cheat the system. So, if you put them on a color copier, the hologram doesn’t show up real well,” said Mrs. Irwin.
The Patriot Buck committee, consisting of Mrs. Irwin and Mrs. Jessi Rettle, are currently coming up with ideas to improve the system.
“We want more students involved. We do now have a student committee that is currently helping to plan the advisory lessons. I’d like to get students involved in what treats/rewards we would give for Patriot Bucks and how they should be distributed, because I think students have a lot of good ideas, and we aren’t really getting that, accept for when we survey’s. We would also like to have a reminder, a session with the faculty, or to get the best practices from different teachers so that teachers can be more consistent as well,” said Mrs. Irwin.
If students want to improve the Patriot Bucks system, then they can sign up for the Patriot Bucks committee and come up with ideas on how to fix it. One of the ideas is to have better snacks available for trade. Another is better drinks, such as soda, if permitted.
“The committee is me and Mrs. Rettle, and we don’t have any students on it right now, but I would love to have students on it. So if students want to be involved next year, they should come talk to me or Mrs. Rettle, we would love that,” said Mrs. Irwin.