Teens rivaling, but in a healthy way for their communities

This time of year people can get lost with wrapping gifts, buying new outfits or planning events.

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I agree for many people, this time brings excitement and joy, but for others in need or without a voice, it can be a difficult, scary and lonely.  Which is why I thought I’d share the story of teenagers in Reno, Nevada, rivaling, but in the good way.

Cyrus Moassessiand Kienan have been holding their annual food drive fundraiser for several years in Reno.  They donate 100% of their proceeds to the Northern Nevada Food Bank.  In fact, their mother, the grateful foodie told me she will go through twenty pounds of flour this year with all her baking.

Isabela and her sister Maya have been fostering kittens with Nevada Humane Society for a few years.  They have seen how these little kittens through love and socialization get nursed back to health and placed quickly into loving homes.  Yet the foster kitten program isn’t without its expenses, which is why Isabela wanted to give back.  In fact, she created a slide show video on her blog to help document her experience and market the event.

Cyrus and Isabela both student leaders and supporters of the American Lung Association have been friends for years.  They have grown up with both allergies and asthma, so they have witnessed how important nonprofits can be to families through their own struggles and advocacy.  Perhaps this is why Isabela decided this year to hold her fundraiser at the same time as Cyrus and Kienan.  Simply put, nothing like good ole rivalry like boys against the girls to raise the stakes, drive more passion and hopefully donations.

As a parent, there is nothing more satisfying than watching your children blessed with life give back to others while having fun.  I thought it was noteworthy to call out these community heroes in order to highlight that rivalry can be fun, if put to good use.

I hope you join me and Caroline by supporting both these fundraisers.  Better yet setup your own stand for another noble cause during this season of giving.

PBS Case Study Working in the DDES Community


Double Diamond Elementary School has been an early adopter blazing the trail for the effective school intervention system, commonly known as “PBS” – Positive Behavior Interventions and Systems.    Leadership of this program as I understand it has been;   Dr. Kristell Moller, Performance Director for Zone 1 and Zone 2 for WCSD,  Mrs. Michelle Cleveland, Assistant Principal, Double Diamond ES, and Trish Gilbert, WCSD School Counselor who not only have installed banners, but also an acknowledge system that tie’s into the school mascot of Coyotes to allow these little elementary school students to receive a ‘howl’ to reinforce behavior.  These can be accumulated as an extrinsic motivator or ‘incentive’ for the students to be “Respectful, Responsible and Safe”.      As a member of the Counseling Advisory Council, I can tell you that this team works hard to meet the national certification standards and work hard to ensure that they collaborate ideas across the regional schools.   In fact, DDES has another great program called, the “Peace Pals,” which involves training upper elementary school students around conflict management and self confidence to advocate for peaceful resolution on the playground. 

I did want to highlight a tactical recognition program for the 100 Howls collected for these Coyotes, that are the brain child of WCSD is Michelle Faulkner, who has created on a shoe string budget an enviable program that students are clamoring about.  It’s called the Howl VIP Movie Premier Night.  They have creatively branded it as “The Double Diamond Theater” which premiers a new movie.  Think Hollywood!   Well, uh hem… It’s really just a RedBox $1.00 movie rental – but it does involve a faux red carpet (red paper on the floor) for the kids to ‘walk on’ the carpet – and be part of a VIP experience.  Oh yes, the students are encouraged to dress in their best attire, bring a friend and come hungry for appetizers and the movie premier.    They announce the students who have accumulated 100 howls during lunch hour with the presentation of their ‘tickets’ which is a lanyard with their school ID photo and details for the event.   Think Willy Wonka and the Golden TicketJ.  Oh, and the program – well – lit rivals those of a $400 a seat program for a fundraiser.  The cost to create you asks?  The creativity and overtime of one uber committed employee who takes her job of ‘kids and education’ seriously.  This school secretary is the  wizard in all things Microsoft who can cut and paste photos, use publisher and uses fonts with the best of them.  The children are interviewed by teachers as they ‘wait on the red carpet’ by a teacher with a ‘real microphone’ to reflect on their most memorable behavior and why they got the ‘howl’.  One student had been saving up her howls since 2nd grade.  It only took her 3 years to accumulate enough for the coveted VIP ticket – to experience the Diamond Theatre. 

Thanks to these creative and courageous leaders at this school who are committed to using their competencies and creativity to create a best in class effective school-wide disciplinary practice.