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Elementary students take the Wildcat field

Wednesday morning, students from Poplarville Lower Elementary School filled Pearl River Community College’s football stadium to enjoy a day of fun and games.

Pearl River Community College student athletes and recruiters played games with about 300 young students as part of the elementary school’s spring Good Behavior Day. The kindergarten, first and second grade students all received enough tickets for good behavior to visit the campus.

The school tries to incentivize good behavior with rewards like the PRCC campus visit, which occurs every fall and spring, said behavior specialist Whitney Magee.

The school has implemented a new behavior management curriculum that students view school wide through morning announcement videos, said Magee. The curriculum teaches students strategies to manage conflict and deal with emotions like anger by slowing down or taking a deep breath.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth with behavior and I think it has a lot to do with us teaching them about different feelings they have and how to manage those feelings,” said Magee.

Elementary students today have more difficulty regulating their emotions and begin school with fewer emotional regulation skills, said Lower Elementary Principal Sonya Garrett.

“Kids used to have more outdoor play,” said Garrett. “Now, we see a lot of kids unable to regulate emotions and feelings.”

Positive incentives like the chance to toss a football with a college athlete motivate the kids to learn the emotional management skills they need and helps teach the children that actions have consequences, said Garrett.

PRCC Director of Recruitment Richard Gleber said it is important for the college students to realize the value of being a mentor to help influence positive behavior for younger kids and Wednesday’s event gave them an opportunity to do that.

“It’s important for the student athletes to have a chance to give back to the community that supports them during athletic events,” said Gleber.

Beyond behavior, the day was an opportunity for the students to have a good time.

“It was fun,” said PRCC basketball player Libby Mosley, who tossed a foam football to kindergartners.

“They made me smile and laugh. I like representing the basketball team,” said Mosley.

PRCC Student Recruiter Madelyn Mapp also thought the event went well.

“They all seemed to have a really good time and were all full of energy,” said Mapp.