Students express their opinions on the new Cougar Core system


Sofia Olviera

Principal Lisa Gruman hangs from a wall in the Main Gym, Sept. 11 after students taped her there. Taping Gruman to the wall was one of the activities students could participate in as a reward during the first Cougar CORE Day.

Kate Lawrence and Nick Lorino

Students laugh and cheer as principal Lisa Gruman is taped to the wall in the main gym. Next door in the aux gym, students dribble, pass and shoot basketballs. Once they are worn out, they headed into the cafeteria for popsicles. These activities, as well as a quiet place to work in the auditorium, were all offered to students who qualified for the first Cougar Core Day.

School administrators unveiled  the new Cougar Core system that they hope  will solve behavioral problems and reward students throughout the year. Faculty members and administrators have been working hard this school year and over the summer to come up with the best options for students to excel in and out of the classroom. The acronym CORE, standing for Conscious, On point, Respectful and Engaged, was created to help students grow far beyond high school.

“We created Cougar Core because we wanted to improve the performance of students in the building,” vice principal Jack Johnson said.“Performance includes  academics, but also behavior. We want kids to turn in their assignments on time, be in class on time, be respectful in the classroom, be respectful to each other, and respectful to the building. We wanted to get more students into class. If they have higher attendance, they will learn more.”

We created Cougar Core because we wanted to improve the performance of students in the building”

— Vice Principal Jack Johnson

As a part of the Cougar Core program, students can be rewarded by their teachers for demonstrating the Core values.

“ If a student does something that models those expectations of CORE, we give them a cougar paw,” Johnson said. “We give it to them to say we see you’re doing good things. This is a tangible item showing that I’m appreciating your behavior,” Johnson said.

After students receive a paw, they can redeem it in the office before or after school to receive candy, school supplies, or another item. After receiving their reward, students can enter their names raffle for a chance to win a gift card.

If students meet the Cougar Core criteria (see sidebar for specifics), another reward comes into play. Students can be dismissed from 7th hour to the main gym and aux gym where food and beverages will be available and an activity will be planned.

With the new system put in place, the reaction from students has been mixed.

“I think it was a good idea for students who are struggling to have more of an incentive,” junior Zach Jarrett said, “but to the people who are doing their work on time and do what they are supposed to do, it’s kind of demeaning. They’re bringing back cougar paws which are  similar to middle school and elementary school. They’re treating us like children.” Sophomore Kendall Toomay disagrees with Jarrett.

“I think putting this in our school system could help in the long run,” Toomay said. “I believe that the Cougar Core helps our students become better in the classroom and learn how to be respectful. I really think the Cougar Core could help Northwest with a lot of issues, bullying, helping kids go to class more and to show them that hard work pays off.”

In addition, teachers and administrators realize that the system will need to be tweaked.

“Cougar Core isn’t going to solve all the problems that we see,” Johnson said. “The plan is for it to eradicate most of it and deal with other situations that could arise.”