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Code of the Buffs: Honoring accomplishments

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Code of the Buffs: Honoring accomplishments

A few samples of the colorful Honor the Code bracelets given to students with their positive messages.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED October 1, 2013 11:26 p.m.

What’s in a simple bracelet with a singular and minimalist message?

A lot, if you’re talking about the colorful wrist bands that Manteca High School is giving away to students who, up until now, have largely been under the radar.

The wrist decorations may be simple but they are priceless. The students earn them by doing something positive, by excelling in something, in ways that ordinarily may not have previously merited the attention of their teachers or anybody, for that matter.

The bracelets are part of Honor the Code, a movement on campus that is solely focused on the good that is happening not only to the students but, to a certain extent, to teaching staff as well.

“This program was designed to reach all students in positive ways,” Manteca High Vice Principal Troy Fast said to members of the Manteca Unified district staff who attended his Honor the Code informational presentation on Tuesday at the district office.

“We are trying to be aware of all our students. We’re changing the cultural climate of our campus in a positive way,” he said.

The bracelets are handed out to the “good, quiet kids” who may not be playing sports, are not in Advance Placement classes, or are not in high-profile activities such as the performing arts or athletics but nonetheless also excel in their own way in various endeavors and actions but otherwise are invisible because nobody notices them, explained Fast.

The school or the community do not hear about them or even see their names or faces plastered in the newspapers, “but we appreciate what they do” just the same, he said.

So, enter the colorful message bracelets.

To earn a bracelet, students can honor the Buffalo Code in a number of ways. These include character, academics, attendance, athletics, arts, spirit, and campus contribution. Every time students honor the Code, they are recognized by receiving an Honor the Code card from any school staff. The students then turn in the card to the attendance official and receive a bracelet.

The words etched on the brightly colored bracelets are words that the students themselves selected. The words were chosen to reflect the school’s vision and focus “what we are (as a school) and what we believe in,” states the Buffalo Code.

The program does not end with the students’ receipt of a bracelet. The bracelet can earn them free or discounted admission to school events. Their names can also go into a weekly drawing for Honor the Code T-shirts. They can also use it to obtain early release from classes or the school.

Since Honor the Code was launched at the start of the school year, 278 bracelets thus far have been awarded.

And so far, the program has yielded positive results. Senior Moriah Saldana who helped design the bracelets said it has “united our campus a lot.” It has gotten rid of cliques at school, and the students are “already talking with each other,” she said.

Fast was so moved by one sight he saw it gave him goose bumps when, upon entering a classroom one morning, several students mutely greeted him by proudly raising their arms and showing him the bracelets that they wore.

Saldana also shared one moving story with the district staff during the presentation. It involved a student who received a bracelet which allowed her discounted admission to a school event that charged an entrance fee at the gate. This girl never went to any of these before, always saying, “I can’t afford to get in. I don’t have any money for that,” said Saldana.

But with the bracelet, she was able to finally get to see these events. “She was so excited. Every day she wears that bracelet with pride,” Saldana said, grinning with excitement as though she was the one who won the award.

While Honor the Code focuses on the students, the program also can be used occasionally to recognize teachers. For this purpose, a Teacher’s Choice bracelet is presented. One of the four teachers who have been recognized in this fashion was history teacher, Nina Horton. A videotape of the bracelet presentation was viewed by district staff who attended Tuesday’s presentation. The student, Neil, who handed the bracelet to Horton, describes his teacher as a “warm mother…, my room mother (who) always made sure I had clothes and boots. She always took care of me. She’s given me every opportunity to excel.”

The video vignette moved some in the room to tears.

Fast credited Manteca High Principal Frank Gonzales for the successful launch and implementation of the program on campus. “I could not have done it without the approval of Mr. Gonzales. When I started it, he was right behind me,” Fast said.

“This is the best program I have ever seen,” said an equally excited Gonzales.

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