Wildcat way streamlined for greater impact

Respect, responsibility and safety: the three key components to a successful lifestyle at Oshkosh West High School. Due to the lack of knowledge of the expectations among both staff and students, the Wildcat Way underwent significant simplifications for the 2016-2017 school year. Assistant principal and member of the Wildcat Way Committee, Rebecca Montour, values the importance of the Wildcat Way to West.

“The Wildcat Way is Oshkosh West’s way of life; a universal expectation for our students and staff,” she said. “We should be respectful, responsible, and make safe choices no matter what.”

To implement the Wildcat Way into classrooms more efficiently, the committee condensed expectations.

“In years past, our expectations were spread out into more categories but it became a little overwhelming,” Montour said. “Over the summer, we worked on simplifying it into our major expectations for our students to make the key subjects easier to remember, remind, and repeat from a teacher’s point of view.”

Although the core ideas have remained the same, Montour has high hopes for West in creating more awareness of the good deeds done by the majority of students.

“We are working hard this year to acknowledge the good behaviors,” she said. “We have so many awesome students in our school that do great things and make the right choices everyday, but sometimes their actions are not recognized.”

Negative behavior, more often than not, consumes the attention of teachers, leaving good behaviors unnoticed. The goal set for this year is to draw attention to those unnoticed deeds.

“So often students making poor choices get a lot of the teachers’ focus,” Montour said. “This year we would like to spend more time making sure that our students who do choose the correct choices everyday know that we see them and that we appreciate them.”

The revamp has been successfully promoted throughout the building. By putting up posters of the Wildcat Way, students have become more aware of this system.

“I have gotten a lot of positive feedback regarding the signs,” Montour said. “By hanging multiple posters around the school we give a visual reminder for students and staff while incorporating it into school spirit.”

Despite the changes made to the Wildcat Way, the basic principles have stayed the same. Principal Erin Kohl expects these changes to help create a standard language throughout the West population.

“We expect everyone to be respectful of themselves, of other people, and property,” she said. “We want everyone to be responsible for their choices, learning, and obviously safety is our number one priority. Having this model helps create common language.”

    An unofficial experiment was conducted by the committee during the 2015-16 school year to get an idea of how effective West’s old motto was. Kohl and the committee analyzed the results as the basis of the changes made.

“Last year we did an experiment where we asked students and staff to tell us what the Wildcat Way was and people couldn’t remember what those five topics were,” Kohl said.

Members agreed on the need to have a motto that was memorable.

“The Wildcat Way team agreed on the importance of everyone just knowing what this motto is,” Kohl said. “The change occurred to simplify the common language so that everyone just knew the three components of the Wildcat Way.”

Social Studies teacher Matthew Mauk welcomes the new changes and believes teachers will apply them into their lessons.

“I like the fact that the Wildcat Way group is simplifying their core values and making it is easier for students and staff to remember what is in the matrix,” he said. “I think teachers will refer to them more often if they remember and understand what they are.”

Mauk has already started to introduce the expectations more often in his classes and addresses the need to follow them.

“In classes, the Wildcat Way is something that we talk about and refer to the poster that is on the wall to remind students about what the expectations are,” he said.

Mauk takes extra time to teach the underclassmen about the ways of West and connecting these important concepts to his teachings.

“Especially because I teach freshmen, it is important for them to get off to a good start,” he said. “If they get off to a good start during freshman year, they are more likely to follow those rules throughout high school.”

Combining school spirit with the expectations at West will hopefully add to the awareness of the importance of respect, responsibility, and safety.

“When you incorporate the Wildcat Way in with school spirit it’s a great way to get students involved and aware of this matrix,” Mauk said of his in-class applications. “This creates a stronger interest in seeing the school be more respected and seeing the student succeed on an academic and sports level. If you tie together what they are doing in the athletic department to the activities with the Wildcat Way, then all these separate organizations can work together to help improve the overall climate of the school.”

The Wildcat Way committee has high hopes for the changes as the school year progresses.

“Our hope is that all the teachers are using the same language so that no matter what environment the student is in, it’s the same set of expectations,” Kohl said.

Montour speaks for the majority when summarizing the overall concept of the Wildcat Way.

“What it comes down to is just having that positive attitude here at West,” she said

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