SPLENDORA, Texas (KTRK) -- Kids are usually excited to go back to school, but one district is trying to make sure they stay excited all year long.
Splendora ISD launched a program that drives home the message of kindness and compassion.
It's called Capturing Kids' Hearts.
Splendora Junior High was the first campus to implement the initiative two years ago.
The elementary and high school levels just started last year.
"There was a lot more bullying before, and now it's a lot better," said fifth-grader Drew Grahlfs.
Teachers and staff use different techniques to create meaningful connections with students and help them develop positive relationships with each other.
"It made a huge impact in turnaround, discipline, grades and just the way we treat each other," Splendora Junior High principal Kent Broussard said. "Teachers and students greet each other, hugs, and high-fives."
Each class creates a social contract, a list of behaviors they want to demonstrate every day, and they hold each other accountable if they don't.
Fourth-grader Yaritza Almaguer made a social contract for her own family.
"I signed it. My cousin signed it. My brother signed it," said Almaguer.
Teachers also begin every day with an exercise called "good things," a chance for kids to share and set a positive tone for the day.
Broussard says referrals to the front office are down 10%.
And after one year of the program at Peach Creek Elementary, referrals dropped by 50%.
"It has completely transformed our school," said Duana Brashear, principal of Peach Creek Elementary. "It's our ability to connect with kids every single day."
So far, Splendora High School has not seen the same improvements. In fact, the discipline rate went up last year.
Senior Cory Harper says campus culture has become more positive but believes the transformation will be a slower process at the high school level.
"I saw a fifth-grader stand at the door of the high school and shake hands with everybody walking in, even adults," said Harper. "Younger kids will bring that atmosphere into the high school."
The district's goal is to build relationships that start early and continue to grow for years to come.
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Splendora ISD using kindness and compassion to improve grades
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