Oftentimes, students are recognized for being the best at something.

At Karen Western Elementary School, Principal Joshua Wilken has found a way to show praise for students who are succeeding at all levels.

Once a month, Karen Western holds an achievement assembly where Wilken honors students who have not only succeeded, but also showed improvement.

Wilken came up with the idea when he took over as Karen Western’s principal in 2014.

“At Karen Western, we discussed different ways to recognize students,” Wilken said. “We discussed awards that showed considerable improvement.”

Each month, students from each grade level are recognized with three awards: Soaring to Success, High Flyers and Citizenship. All recipients are nominated by his or her teacher. While High Flyers are students who do well, the Soaring to Success award is given to students who have progressed in different ways and teachers have taken notice.

“Soaring to Success is for those who improve academically or behaviorally,” he said.

At the end of the assembly, three students from Karen Western are named “Cardinals of the Month.” This award is given to students who show a combination of all the other awards given out.

There are also two attendance awards given to the classes who have had the best attendance over the previous month. It’s a traveling award, making for fun competition between the grades, Wilken said.

The assembly has become a way for students to learn and practice various manners and skills, Wilken said.

“We also talk about skills such as shaking hands, looking me in the eye and saying ‘Thank you’ when they accept their award,” he said.

The students have grown to look forward to the assembly, Wilken said. With new winners named each month, all students get a chance to shine and the chance to celebrate their peers.

“They love it,” he said. “They definitely want to support classmates who have won.”

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