BEND, Ore. - La Pine Elementary School recently debuted an educational video starring students to help combat frequent student absenteeism.
The video stars students encouraging their classmates to meet La Pine's new attendance goal of 161 out of 171 school days. La Pine has adopted the slogan "161 to Lift Up Everyone." Students are being asked to attend 94% of school days, reaching that 161-days mark.
La Pine Elementary has had trouble with student attendance. Last school year, the school had about 40 students missing each day. That's 10% of the school’s total student population.
When a student misses 10% of classes, it's called chronic absenteeism. Last school year, about 15% of elementary school students in Bend-La Pine Schools were considered chronically absent.
The video was directed by one of the school's teachers, Ben Becker, a former professional photographer who currently teaches fourth grade.
One of the stars of the video, fifth-grader Fayte Miller, thinks it's important for students to be in school.
"I like coming to school because, one, my friends are here and I really like hanging out with my friends. Two, school is very important because I have a job that I want. I want to work at NASA,” Miller said.
To increase attendance, La Pine Elementary has created an incentive program for the students. Each week, the grade with the highest attendance will have a celebratory flag placed by their classroom. There is also a school-wide incentive program. If the school has an attendance record of 94% in a two-week period, the students are rewarded with a special day, like "crazy hair day" or "hat day."
Megan Silvey, the school's student services coordinator, attributes the low attendance numbers to kindergartners.
"I think a lot of parents feel like we aren't there. Kindergarten is supposed to be a time where we do a lot of playing. There is play in kindergarten, but there is a time and a place for that, but we do work really hard academically in kindergarten," Silvey said.
Bend-La Pine Schools officials said a number of schools are running similar incentivized programs as part of their efforts to increase school attendance.