Fifth-grade students at a New Jersey elementary school are participating in the CARES program. The program — which stands for Connecting, Achieving, Rewarding, Encouraging and Serving — was established two years ago to help students develop responsibility, respect, good manners and honesty. Through the program, fifth-graders are told they are role models and are taught to take on more responsibility, in part, by completing jobs at school and being “paid.” 

Fifth Graders Learn ResponsibilityAlexis Nappa and Rachel Piccione ponder the puzzle pieces scattered across the school desk, trying to assemble a bigger picture.

Like an older sister, Alexis doesn’t do the work but she offers gentle guidance when the 9-year-old pauses.

The fifth-grader’s classmates are at recess. Alexis said she could be playing in the sun but she’s happy spending time with the students in teacher Kristi Holt’s class. The reason is simple.

“I like to help,” Alexis said.

This is the second year Petway Elementary School fifth-graders are participating in the CARES program, developed to encourage student involvement in the school community, Principal Jennifer Frederico said. The acronym stands for Connecting, Achieving, Rewarding, Encouraging, and Serving.

The school’s planning team developed the program from scratch two years ago to dovetail into its Pathway to Patriot Pride character education program that promote traits including responsibility, respect, good manners and honesty.

“The fifth-graders were ruling the roost,” Frederico said, but the maturity level wasn’t there. “We wanted to take that in a different direction, we wanted them to feel connected.”

So now on their first day of fifth grade, the school’s upperclassmen are told “you are special because you go to school here.”

CONTINUE READING New CARES Program Helps Fifth Graders Learn Responsibility

Fifth Graders Learn Responsibility