Caring Cougar program continues growing
Caring Cougar program continues growing
Posted on 02/03/2015
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WEST HAVEN, Feb. 2, 2015 — Carrigan Intermediate School administrators stood at the school auditorium’s podium Jan. 22 before an audience of students, teachers and parents, describing the good deeds, academic accomplishments and generosity demonstrated by 40 students over the past few weeks.

There was a story of a student helping classmates open their lockers, and one of a youngster who is always quick to congratulate peers for winning a game at recess, even when he’s on the other team. There was a speech about a fifth-grader who requests extra challenges on tests and one about a student who befriends those who seem lonely.

The presentation, dubbed the Caring Cougar Program in a nod to the school’s cougar mascot, has become a monthly tradition at the school, ever since it began housing the fifth and sixth grades a few years ago. It involves teachers and students nominating one child from each classroom as that month’s Caring Cougar, detailing what positive actions the student took that month, and honoring those youngsters at an assembly attended by each student’s entire grade.

And this year, Carrigan teacher Tracy Barletta is expanding the effort so more people know about the good things Carrigan kids are doing to make their school a better place and to help those around them.

“I see how much of an impact it has on our students. One of my kids told me he hoped to be named a Caring Cougar because he wants to be a role model for the younger kids on his basketball team. He said, ‘I know they look up to me. It’s my New Year’s resolution,’” said Barletta, who is incorporating her Caring Cougar enhancements into her work for her sixth-year degree in administration.

Each month, a Caring Cougar from each classroom is selected for demonstrating one of the following qualities: citizenship, acceptance, respect, responsibility, integrity, generosity, achievement and nurturing.

“It’s easy to focus on the academics, but we also want to broaden their horizons to work on integrity, citizenship and the other positive qualities the Caring Cougar program talks about,” said Carrigan Assistant Principal Rich Weber.

In most classrooms, students nominate peers for the honor and contribute to descriptions that teachers write about Caring Cougar students for the presentation in the auditorium. Then during the assemblies—one is held for each grade--administrators read the information about the students while presenting each with a certificate and a bumper sticker. After all the Caring Cougars are announced, the social work and guidance department presents an interactive lesson on something being covered in the classroom, such as gossip or bullying. 

Barletta added the bumper stickers to the program this year and is organizing a Caring Cougar T-shirt design contest. She is also adding an “Ultimate Caring Cougar” vote at the end of the year to honor the students who were seen as the most positive role models among their peers. Ultimate Caring Cougars will be recognized with the shirts, which will be donated by Vio’s Sports Plus, of West Haven, and a special ceremony.

Additionally, Barletta wants to encourage more parents to attend the monthly ceremonies and involve the community, possibly by bringing community leaders to the end-of-year ceremony to speak to the kids.

“The program builds morale, and the kids are so supportive of their classmates who are Caring Cougars,” Barletta said. “Sometimes they make signs for them for the assembly, and they always applaud and cheer. I love seeing that. It’s a great program.”

Contact: Communications Director Susan Misur, 203-937-4300 X7114;