Kelso hops in to help kids make good choices

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

Kelso is on the loose in the halls, classrooms and cafeteria at Sherman Avenue Elementary School, and students are learning a lot from him.

Third-grader Corey Queen said he thought about Kelso when two boys were pushing each other, and one turned around and began pushing him. Corey, 9, walked away.

“I didn’t want to get in a fight,” Corey said. “I remembered Kelso.”

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Kelso, you see, is a teaching tool in the form of a frog that encourages students to make good moral choices when conflicts arise.

Corey said making “Kelso choices” helps him out.

“You don’t have to go to the office or get suspended,” he said. “It keeps you out of trouble.”

Two other students made Kelso decisions and sat Friday at the special lunch table, where the placemats are lily pads.

Bo Hopkins and Jerrell Oliver, who are both 10 years old and in the fourth grade, got into an argument after Bo accidentally bumped his desk into Jerrell’s. Instead of continuing to quarrel, the kids shook hands, apologized to each other and are now buddies.

“It felt better to talk it out than to get into a fight,” Jerrell said.

Some other Kelso choices are saying, “Please stop,” ignoring a person who is bothersome, sharing and taking turns, making a deal, walking away, waiting and cooling off and playing another game.

This is the first year Kelso has been in Sherman Avenue, and having the green creature in the school reminds students there are options on how to react when provoked, said Missy Tello, Sherman Avenue’s guidance counselor.

“The students are learning that it feels better to make these choices,” she said, noting the pencils, cookies, stickers, certificates and seats at the Kelso lunch table that students receive when caught making a Kelso choice.

“The program takes a serious issue and brings it to terms children can understand,” she said. “They can learn conflict resolutions in ways that they can relate to.”

Kelso’s Choice began in Roseburg, Ore., at Eastwood and Melrose Elementary schools, was developed and copyrighted by Barbara O’Neill and Diane Glass.

Materials for the program can be ordered from a catalog and, at Sherman Avenue, are purchased partly from funds in the character education budget. The startup kit, which included stickers, coloring sheets and certificates, costs $200.

Other schools in the district also have Kelso in their schools.

Redwood Elementary School adopted the program about seven years ago, and Kelso is now on the school buses. Students’ good bus behavior is rewarded each month by having breakfast on the bus, which is usually chocolate lily pads and green pond water, said Janice Koestler, guidance counselor for the school. The school also holds a party for students who make Kelso choices in the classroom.

Bowmar Elementary School is another school that has welcomed the green amphibian into their classrooms. Helen Bowman, guidance counselor at the school, said students are treated with a special lunch once a month and given pencils, cookies or candies for making Kelso choices. A recognition program is also held at the end of the school year.

Kelso gets around. He’s also been seen at South Park Elementary.