Burroughs is EPIC

Max Pogge, Staff Reporter

Burroughs has decided to make an EPIC decision in choosing its acronym for its new behavior expectation matrix, with each letter of the acronym representing a behavior that schools believe students should exhibit.

The acronym — which stands for Excellence, Pride, Integrity and Community — will be the basis for signage all over campus and in classrooms, reminding students to demonstrate these traits as they go about their day.

Now the task is to figure out how to best communicate the specific behaviors that school staff and administration hope to see.

For example, what does “excellence” look like in a classroom or other common areas? How can students best show “pride” in the hallways or at rallies? Teachers met in small groups last month to begin discussing how to put the desired expectations into words.

Originally, the faculty had decided on two option — KICKS and PRIDE — and surveyed the student body about those choices.

However, only about one-third of the students voted, and no clear favorite emerged. Many students dismissed PRIDE because it was associated with Murray’s PBIS system, and some people had concerns that KICKS would encourage an unwanted response.

As it turns out, Principal Carrie Cope had the solution right in front of her — literally — with a sign in her office.

Existing Burroughs signage already celebrates the pillars of “Tradition — Pride — Excellence — Integrity” and Cope simply rearranged them, with the idea that “community” was an appropriate substitution for “tradition.” The Burroughs department chairs quickly approved the idea.

Assistant Principal Sandra Castro explained the reasoning behind the acronym.

“EPIC is basically an acronym that shows how students embody a burro,” said Castro. “It’s what we stand for and how we expect everyone to behave. We often hear ‘once a burro, always a burro.’ Our community really embodies school spirit and support. The question becomes, what do burros stand for? What do people mean when they say this out in the community or in school? Well, we are EPIC. So now when someone says, ‘once a burro, always a burro,’ people will understand that we learned to embody excellence, pride, integrity and community.”

Creating the behavior expectation matrix and implementing PBIS is part of the Burroughs Schoolwide Action Plan that was finalized in last year’s WASC accreditation self-study.

PBIS — or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports — is a proactive approach schools use to improve school safety and promote positive behavior. The focus of PBIS is prevention, not punishment.

Burroughs English teacher Dave Gerber has experience with PBIS systems from teaching at other schools outside of California.

“I think it’s good to ground behavior in something that’s easy to remember and simple, like this is,” said Gerber. “The PBIS system works, but a big part is getting people to understand what it is and what people are trying to accomplish.”

Senior Madison Johnson applauded the decision.

“EPIC offers a great reminder of the ideals we should always strive for,” said Johnson. “I think that if you take pride in your work and try to achieve excellence in all you do, you’ll find deeper meaning in everyday tasks and have the satisfaction of finishing each day knowing you did a good job. The same applies to maintaining your integrity. When you hold yourself to a higher standard, not only will you feel proud, but others may be encouraged to follow suit. This idea of being uplifting is important, because ultimately, we’re at our best when we are surrounded by a community of support and kindness.”