Howard County elementary students displaying good behavior will soon be rewarded with fruit bouquets.
A partnership between the school system and Edible Arrangements of Columbia, Ellicott City and Laurel was scheduled to be signed Friday at Elkridge Elementary. The agreement provides principals with 1,500 gift certificates, worth a total of $51,000, for the rest of the academic year.
There are also plans to continue the program in the fall. Schools have been distributing the certificates for the bouquets since January.
The partnership ties in with the school system's Positive Behavior Intervention System, which is a data-driven program that rewards students for positive behavior.
The main focus on deciding which students receive the reward will be on the program, according to Mary Schiller, who heads the school system's Partnership Office.
"It is recognition for the kids having good behavior," Schiller said. "We are focusing on the action of the students."
All of the county's 41 schools with elementary-age students will receive six gift certificates to the store every month. Each gift certificate is worth $34. School officials say that the partnership is one of the most financially generous they have seen in recent years.
"I think it is generous that they are doing it," said Linda Rangos, coordinator of health and physical education for the school system. "It is pretty exciting that they are offering this opportunity to the school system."
The school officials stressed the healthful aspect of the reward, which fits in with the national and local effort to combat childhood obesity.
"We have to change a culture," Rangos said. "It is going to have to change. We have to do something about" childhood obesity.
The edible arrangement gift is something that the entire family can use as opposed to other incentives that usually reward just the student, according to Diane Mumford, principal at Elkridge Elementary.
"It's very, very supportive and well-received by our families," Mumford said. "It can be a family celebration. It is unique."
She added: "The family enjoys it. I've had parents who have framed the certificates. They have enjoyed it with grandparents, aunts and uncles. They make it a family event."