Tis the season for student shopping at General Smallwood Middle School. The school hosted its annual holiday shop this week for students of all grade levels. Part of the library was transformed in to a store for students to shop for holiday presents. One thing not exchanged in the shop was money; students shopped with their Bulldog Bucks.
Students receive the bucks as part of the schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program. The shop was open for four days this week – three days for students to visit during their assigned class and a make-up day for students who missed their assigned visit. Students were also allowed to repeat shop on the final day.
The shop was set up with gifts ranging in amounts of one Bulldog Buck up to 20 Bulldog Bucks. Items for sale included children’s books, jewelry, toys, candles and purses to dish towels, photo frames, shoes and clothing. Michelle Mandley is the sixth-grade administrator at Smallwood and manages collecting items for the shop.
“We accept donations all year and I save the items for the shop. I usually have an entire closet full of items. We even have staff members who go out and buy new items with their own money,” Mandley said.
Mandley helped launch the shop three years ago with the assistance of Smallwood Principal Kathy Kiessling. The two previously worked together at John Hanson Middle School, where they ran a holiday shop for students. “This is a schoolwide effort. Everyone contributes. Teachers volunteer to wrap… this helps with relationship building,” Mandley said.
Teachers give up their planning time to wrap gifts and help students create nametags for their gifts. Most students shop for their parents and family members, and pick out unique items they think their family members would like.
Smallwood seventh grader Isaiah Jackson spent 71 Bulldog Bucks at the shop. He picked up a small folding couch for his younger sister and a necklace and make-up bag for another family member. Students who spent more than 25 Bulldog Bucks received a free book, which Jackson planned to give to his younger cousin. He said he was excited to shop at school so he could thank his family.
“I like to give my family things. They help me and provide things for me so this is my thanks to them for giving me stuff,” Jackson said. He said he earned his rewards by listening, doing his classwork and homework, and for following the rules. “It’s easy to earn them,” he said.
Sixth grader Lilly DeLacy shopped for her older sister and said she liked visiting the store because she could use her rewards to shop and not worry about spending money. “I like that we don’t have to use real money. A lot of kids our age don’t have a lot of money or cash to spend at all,” she said.
This was Smallwood history teacher Chris Tremaglio’s first year participating in the holiday shop. He helped to wrap presents and said the experience is rewarding. “This is my first year teaching at Smallwood. I taught for years at the high school level and this school not only gives at the holidays, but all year long. Staff here are always working to support kids,” Tremaglio said.
The holiday cheer spread to his family as Tremaglio chose to anonymously adopt a student this year. “It is really just rewarding. This is nice to see kids doing for others and then learning how they can also do this at home,” he said.