Door Decorating Contest Held at Kent Island High School


Christine Grupenhoff

November 26, 2007


Character Counts! recently sponsored a contest at Kent Island High School (KIHS).  Tracey Nicholson’s 9th grade 4th period Spanish class at KIHS-9th Grade Annex and Kim Kehm’s ESOL class took away top honors when their respective students decorated their classroom doors.  As the prize for their hard work, both classes will receive a pizza party thanks to the generosity of Ledo’s Pizza, Kent Island.


Brad Engel, Assistant Principal at KIHS, decided to hold a contest to bring additional attention to the new school initiative, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).   PBIS is a school-wide model where all school personnel including the principal, teachers, administrative staff, custodial staff, cafeteria workers and bus drivers, are taught to identify and reward positive behaviors exhibited by the students. 


Teaming up with Character Counts! was an easy decision.  According to Jacki Carter, Coordinator of Character Counts, “Mrs. Hershberger (Principal at KIHS), Brad Engel and I have been working together to incorporate Character Counts! within the PBIS program newly instituted at Kent Island High School.   Mr. Engel asked me if Character Counts! could be involved in this project.  With our character coaches working in the 9th grade classes, this was a great idea and we were pleased to be asked.  Wayne Humphries, Chris Grupenhoff and I were the contest judges.  The doors were all very well decorated and the decision was difficult.” Wayne Humphries, Co-Chair of the Character Counts! Advisory Council, enjoyed the experience noting, “I’m always amazed to see the creativity and ingenuity of the students.  It was a very difficult decision to select just one door.  I hope we will be able to sponsor another contest soon.”


Honey Voermann, Art teacher for the 9th grade, spearheaded the contest at the 9th Grade Annex.  The students were given instructions to decorate the door incorporating the message of the four behavioral expectations:  Respect Others, Respect Self, Respect Learning and Respect Property.  Along with the behavioral expectations, the doors were judged on originality, clarity of message and neatness. Because the contest was held the same week as the high school’s homecoming activities, the doors were to include this year’s theme, the Fabulous ‘50’s. Voermann states, “Many of the doors were designed by the Fundamentals of Art and Fundamentals of Design Classes.  Along with the elements of art and design, the students were asked to use multi-media tools such as the computer. Having the students work together as a team was key to the overall success of the project.  Having fun with a creative project and bringing the concepts of respecting others, self, learning and property into the project was a great experience for all.”


Tracey Nicholson also felt the enthusiasm by her students.  “It was a fun project and the students valued the opportunity to share their thoughts on what the expectations meant to them.  Each expectation was listed and the students noted behaviors for each.  As an example, for Respect Self, the students listed ‘Stay Sober’ and ‘Hugs not Drugs.’  To make it a fair process, the class voted on the ideas they liked best and then translated these sayings into Spanish that were then added to the door.  Brandon Walters was instrumental in the overall design concept for the winning door with contributions from fellow students.  Kim Kehm’s ESOL Class also received first prize honors.  This class is composed of five-six 9th, 10th, and 11th graders from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.


Character Counts! thanks Kent Island High School for the opportunity to sponsor the contest and looks forward to many more opportunities to work with youth to build good character.  To find out more about the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program at KIHS, contact Brad Engel at 410-604-2070.  If you are interested in learning more about Character Counts! call Jacki Carter at 410-758-6677 or visit the website at