Enforcing the school system’s discipline policy is the key element in the reformation of Amite High School, a news release from the school said.

From the moment students walked on campus this school year, Principal Terran Perry and the faculty rigidly enforced the discipline policy.

“Although it may seem as though teenagers enjoy the freedom of doing as they please, in reality, they actually want and like rules, boundaries and structure,” Perry said.

The expectations are concrete, and students know they must follow the rules or face the consequences for breaking them, he said.

“Because students understand expectations, teachers are not dealing with discipline issues during instructional time,” Perry said. “As a result, we should see improvement in our students’ academic performance.”

Discipline accountability is the backbone of the structure, the release said. If a student misbehaves, sleeps in class or refuses to do classwork, the teacher gives the student a warning, referred to as a “strike.”

Students receive a second strike if the misbehavior reoccurs. On the third strike, the student is given a standard reflection form. The student writes a reflection as to why he or she is misbehaving. If an external issue is affecting the student’s behavior, the student uses this opportunity to bring it to the teacher’s attention.

On the fourth strike, the student is removed from the classroom and sent to the Positive Action Class to await a consequence for the action, which is usually an after-school detention.

The final outcome rests in the student’s hands, the release said. Students are given the opportunity to “earn” their way out of the detention by behaving in all seven classes and obtaining each teacher’s signature on the detention form prior to the afternoon of the detention.

Teachers only sign the form if the student models appropriate behavior, the release said. If the student does not earn the signatures, he or she must serve the detention. If the student chooses to skip the detention, the following day he or she is assigned Positive Action Class, then must serve the detention, the release said.

This is the key to the discipline structure’s success: putting the power of choice in the students’ hands.

“I love that I am able to teach from bell to bell with minimal disruptions,” said English teacher Tracy Morgan. “Because the students know the behavior expectations and the consequences of misbehaving, there is order in my classroom. They know that they are expected to participate and learn.”

“The people are the same, but because the school is now so structured, students feel more secure,” consumer science teacher Kristy Willie said. “I believe that the students, as well as the teachers, feel protected against negativity. Kids don’t have to worry about being bullied or harassed. They don’t have to deal with other students disrupting the learning process. They see the positives and understand why we are holding them accountable.”