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Meeting some big goals at Akin Road Elementary

Akin Road Elementary fourth grader Cali Shoyat and fifth grader Vaughan Johnson pause for a photo after dumping names into the Tiger Tank, which was built by Johnson's dad, Matt Johnson. The Tiger Tank is a visual reminder of good behavior for students.

School-wide party will be held when ARES meets the first Tiger Tank goal

Incentive comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. At Akin Road Elementary School, the size is extra large. No one can possibly miss the school's new Tiger Tank.

Built by Matt Johnson, father of ARES fifth grader Vaughan Johnson, the Tiger Tank takes up a good chunk of space in the entryway of the school. It's black on the outside, and pieces of bright orange paper line the bottom of the tank. The paper will fill more of the tank as the weeks pass, because Akin Road Elementary students are on their best behavior so they can get a school party or two.

The Tiger Tank stems from the school's Tiger Star Award program -- a program designed to encourage good behavior, kindness and responsibility in students. When students do something for others or lead by example, they receive a Tiger Star Award. The award is on an orange slip of paper, which is put into one of four weekly drawings.

The drawings give students the chance to be helpers around the school -- to be principal for a day, to deliver snacks from the snack cart, to be part of the lunch bunch, or to be entered into a prize box.

The remaining slips are then placed in the new Tiger Tank. It's a visual way to encourage students to be on their best behavior, principal Laura Pierce said.

"We were brainstorming, how can we reward all of the students?" Pierce said. "We wanted to have some kind of a visual component, too."

At first, Pierce and student advocate Jacelyn Brand talked about ways to recognize the students for their good behavior. They came up with the idea for a tank of some sort. And then Johnson found out. Matt Johnson designed the Tiger Tank, then enlisted the help of Cub Scout Pack 119. He also got donations from Hoffman Inc. and Lattitude Construction.

It's big -- bigger than Pierce and Brand anticipated -- but they love it all the same.

"It's the first thing you see when you walk in. It's a good way to start your day," Brand said.

Students are very proud of the Tiger Tank as well Pierce said. On more than one occasion, she's heard students telling parents about it, or pointing out their name on a slip of paper in the tank.

Fourth grade student Carli Shoyat likes the idea of the Tiger Tank.

"That means everybody is doing well and on their best behavior," Shoyat said.

Brand agrees.

"It's a good way to see who got caught being good," she said.

The Tiger Tank has bright orange arrows taped to its four corners. Those arrows indicate the first goal for this year. When enough Tiger Star Awards have been dropped in the tank to reach those arrows, the students will receive a school-wide party. And then a second goal will be set. Students will receive a party for each goal they meet.

"It's such a visual for us," Pierce said. "We're so proud of our students."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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