WILLIAMSBURG — Jamestown High School is focusing on improving school outcomes with its new Nest system.
Each student, faculty, and staff member at Jamestown is assigned to one of five “nests” at the high school: Soarin’ Seahawks, Ragin’ Raptors, Flamin’ Flamingos, Ballin’ Blue Jays or Darin’ Ducks.
Through friendly competition, nests — or teams — compete to earn points for positive attributes such as good grades, school attendance and school spirit along with participation in Nest-sponsored events. The winning nest is announced each marking period, and students in that nest earn rewards such as a pizza party.
The genesis of the program came a former Assistant Principal at Jamestown High School who suggested a model from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. The idea is a house-system. It appealed to Nest Co-Sponsors Maeghan Christie and Chris Eames as a token economy that appeals to high schoolers.
“There’s been a struggle in PBIS to get that motion going with a token economy,” Eames said. “[Jamestown Principal] Mr. Townsend looked at me said, ‘Chris do you wanna do this? And Maeghan and I both said this has potential to be really good to get kids engaged in leadership opportunities and pull the whole school together, and we ran with it.'”
Jamestown High School has found since the implementation of the Nest Program, The number of students who have attended games and events has increased by 4.2% when compared to prior years. During this school year, 100% of students have engaged in at least one Nest activity.
The students themselves designed the names, the colors, the discussions, and many of the programs for student participation. Eames mentioned that the only part not designed by the students themselves was the logos, which were done by his wife.
Nest leaders meet monthly to contribute ideas and provide feedback about the system to school leadership. Nest leaders are also charged with encouraging their own nest’s attendance and participation in events.
“If kids put the effort in and kids put the time in, other kids will follow along as well,” Eames said.
The school notes the program is different from most student groupings based on grade, as the Nest system builds five different communities under one roof at Jamestown High School, with the focus on creating a friendly environment centered on positive results. Students from all grades interact within each nest, building strong community bonds within the school while student Nest leaders practice their leadership skills.
Nest leaders are chosen through an application process with consideration of an interview process for future years, so the faculty can meet the students face to face. Currently, students fill out an online application with references.
“Some of the questions are fairly extensive,” Christie explained. “They have some thoughtful responses about how or why they would be a great leader as well as some ideas they have to bring to the next year. We’re looking for people that took the time to fill out those questions.”
The organization also heavily encourages students from all walks of life to apply and participate in the Nest Program, not just students who are already active in school life such as multi-lingual students and students from different grade levels. Each Nest has five leaders and one Nest Commander.
“I think it’s a great way to unite the kids in the school. You get freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors all working together,” said Jamestown High School senior Owen Sines, who is one of five nest commanders.
The most recent Nest Program activity is for Kindness Week. It involves painting rocks to be hidden throughout the school. All of the rocks were painted by Nest Program leaders. The event created such intrigue from students that conversations are being considered for the whole school to participate in creating the rocks in future events.
Once students find the rocks, they will bring it to one of the designated faculty who will check the number on the rock off the list. Each rock will earn points for their Nest as well as they will get to keep the rock found.
“It makes me proud to be their principal. It also makes me so very hopeful that we are putting out young people who are going to do good things in the world,” said Howard Townsend, Jamestown High School principal.