Two Green Bay elementary schools combat tardiness with March Madness themed challenge

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Two Green Bay elementary schools are incorporating a "March Madness” bracket-style competition to motivate student attendance.

March Madness Attendance Challenge brackets at Howe Elementary School

The schools are going head-to-head in a bracket-style challenge after a Green Bay elementary school social worker saw a need to encourage students to be in school. For Howe Elementary School, attendance numbers needed some work.

"I think for us attendance is an issue, and we're trying to figure out how to increase it and how to combat missed days, because we know that if kids are not in school on time that they are missing universal instruction and that can create some gaps in learning," said Amy Kallioinen, principal of Howe Elementary School.

"Even one or two days a month can really impact a student's learning overall, because one or two days a month adds up to 10 percent of the entire year that they've missed," said Crystal Dubey, a social worker for Howe Elementary School.

Dubey decided to partner with Nicolet Elementary School to foster a little motivation.

"Our neighborhood kids all spend a lot of time together, our schools have kids that have attended both throughout time, and we thought it was a fun way to start a neighborhood challenge and a new yearly tradition," said Dubey.

Motivation was exactly what both schools needed. In December Howe’s attendance was at 89 percent, this month it's more than 94 percent. Nicolet's attendance is now also higher than 94 percent.

The March Madness Attendance Challenge isn't just based on attendance, it's also based on punctuality.

“The way we do attendance, every minute counts," Dubey explains, "so if they're going to be five minutes late it's better than being a half an hour late, and so the kids are really excited, the teachers are emailing me and asking me for updates."

The winners of the challenge will be announced at the beginning of April. The winning school wins a trophy and a mystery prize. Each grade will face off from both schools in a bracket-style challenge, and elimination begins next week.

"It's going to encourage our kids to come to school every day. It's important for us because this is building up to our testing season, we have four tests coming up in April,and this competition's going to run into that time frame. We always want to encourage our kids to come to school but especially this critical time of the year," said Matt Heller, principal of Nicolet Elementary School.

"It's easier to get their kids motivated and get out of bed in the morning because they're excited to come and they don't want to disappoint their classmates because they're counting on each other to do it," said Kallioinen.

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