Students At Cassadaga Valley Central School Earn Unique Reward

Cassadaga Valley Principal Scot Stutzman is pictured here inside a dunk tank, while students who demonstrated good grades and behavior had the opportunity to take a shot at him and two other staff members. Submitted photo

SINCLAIRVILLE — At Cassadaga Valley Middle/High School, students get more than a pat-on-the-back when they earn high marks and demonstrate good character.

This school year, Scot Stutzman, middle/high school principal, introduced “Hump Day Dunk Days,” an admittedly silly term for the reward certain students receive on the Wednesday after quarterly grades go home. Stutzman shared the event at the December meeting of the Board of Education.

“It was a lot of fun, but it was cold,” said Stutzman of his recent plunge into the dunk tank in the school parking lot, where snow fell gently around him.

Stutzman explained his new incentive for students. “We do the ‘Hump Day Dunk Days’ on the Wednesday after grades go home,” he began. “We go into all the lunches, and our students are selected based on basically doing the right thing in the classroom: maintaining good grades and avoiding significant consequences, like suspensions. We go in and select those kids, and we give them an opportunity to go outside.”

As the first quarter’s grades were sent home earlier this month, Stutzman, along with assistant principal Chris Rusco and new hire Beth Beaver, who teaches English, agreed to be “dunkees” in the first Hump Day Dunk Day. According to Stutzman, between 75 and 100 students were selected to take part, and each one went outside to the parking lot where the dunk tank awaited them. Each student had one shot, and there were three successful attempts that plunged Stutzman, Rusco and Beaver into the water.

“Once you were dunked and had to get back on that board in 25-degree weather, it was tough,” Stutzman recalled. “The water was initially heated, but it cooled off pretty quickly in that kind of weather over the course of five lunch periods.”

Stutzman explained that the event was live-streamed and played in the newly remodeled middle/high school and elementary cafeterias, much to the delight of the students inside. He sees this particular activity as a fun way to involve the entire district in celebrating students’ achievements and gives students an unusual incentive.

“I’ve done a lot of pretty nutty things in my career because I believe in putting myself out there for these kids,” Stutzman said.

Stutzman’s dunk day is a unique twist on other ideas he heard at a recent conference in Orlando, and it was met with enthusiasm when he returned. When asked if teachers were allowed to throw a ball during the event, Stutzman laughed: “The deal is, if you throw a ball, then you also get to sit on that bench in the dunk tank, too.” No teachers took Stutzman up on his deal, but many are looking forward to watching the next Hump Day Dunk Day. “We’ll be doing this again during the first week of February,” Stutzman explained, as second quarter grades come out then. “Once again, we’ll be outdoors. That one will be tough.” Indeed it will, for Stutzman said that all qualifying students will be given two shots instead of one.

In his report to the board, Stutzman was pleased to share that 20 students, juniors and seniors, were recently inducted into the National Honor Society.

He also shared that the annual holiday door decorating contest, to be judged by the bus garage staff, is underway and will raise money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle.

Elementary School Principal Josh Gilevski shared recent activities with the board. In November, students in grades kindergarten through five enjoyed presentations from the Audubon Society and took part in the hands-on experience of pressing apples into cider with equipment from the high school. November activities concluded with the annual Turkey Trot, where all staff and students walked the bus loop to enjoy exercise before Thanksgiving break and understand its importance year ’round.

In other business, the board of education approved the following:

¯ The sale of a small, land-locked parcel of vacant property to Park United Methodist Church of Sinclairville;

¯ The probationary appointment of Charcy Kinney as a cleaner, the permanent appointment of Christina Katta as part-time bus attendant and the permanent appointment of Jennifer Runge to Clerk II;

¯ The second reading and adoption of policies for Allocation of Title I, Part A Funds, Education of Students in Foster Care, Procurement Uniform Grant Guidance Requirements and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

The next meeting of the Cassadaga Valley Board of Education is Monday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. in the middle/high school multi-purpose room.

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