By Kyle Bailey
Special to the Times-Junction
While many children may loathe school and think it is an arduous task, students at Richmond Elementary have had their perception of school change due in part to Principal Kathryn Allen's "Flash Cash" incentive program.The Flash Cash program is in its second full year at Richmond. The program was developed as an incentive for kids to exhibit good behavior and better attitudes towards school, secretary Kim Compton said. "We wanted to promote good behavior and responsibility among students while at school, and then reward the children for their positive actions," she explained. "Some kids have had behavioral issues, and the program has been used to help guide these children in the right direction." Students are rewarded with Flash Cash by any school faculty based on a variety of factors, such as using correct manners, being responsible, or by being helpful to other students or staff. Alternatively, if a student exhibits negative behavior by making a poor decision, then the student is liable to lose what they have earned, Compton stated. Flash Cash is a fake currency created and designed by various students, she added. The fake currency includes ones, fives, tens, and 20's, each with its own unique design. Compton pointed out the parent teacher group donated money to initiate the program, but local businesses have also been chipping in to donate to the cause. "We think it's wonderful that local businesses are trying to lend a hand to the community and make a difference in the children's lives," Compton said. "The program has worked better than expected because students have started to display responsibility for their actions and more positive attitudes towards being at school." There is a wide array of prizes students have the pleasure of choosing from, such as candy, books, sports equipment and many more. All items have either been donated to the program or bought with donated funds from PTG or various local businesses. Fifth grader Erin Stevens gave her opinion of the program as she showed off her new Ohio State Buckeyes souvenir cup. "I really like the Flash Cash program because it's really fun and there are a lot of different prizes to choose from." Part of the fun in participating in the program, Compton said, is that students must decide how to manage the accumulated Flash Cash. "It helps teach the kids life lessons," she said. "They learn to be more responsible and how to manage, save and spend their money." The main dilemma among students engaging in the incentive program is a valuable life lesson of quantity versus quality. Some students prefer to save the Flash Cash for a single big prize, while other students prefer to utilize the fake money for less expensive items to garner more prizes. Kasmeine Diaz, a fifth grade student in Mrs. Sloan's class, said her strategy was quantity over quality. "I like getting stuff," she said. "I wanted to go for quantity with my $12. I spent $10 and have $2 left over for next time." When asked why she enjoyed the incentive program Diaz had a good reason. "It teaches me responsibility on how to spend my money." Compton said students have the privilege of participating in the prize selection process twice each semester. Students are able to choose prizes following the dispersal of interim reports and following the grading period. "This allows us to accommodate for picked items and it also allows the students to earn and save more Flash Cash," she said. Compton said the faculty was not aware of all the benefits the incentive program would create for students when it started last year, but that the progress shown is very encouraging. "We look forward to continuing the program in the future because the kids enjoy it, and it really benefits them," Compton said.