Winter Lakes High School

A graduation cap and gown is on a stand in front of the main office for Winter Lakes High School in Coquille, on March 16, 2016.

COQUILLE — Chronic absenteeism is a problem throughout the state, but Winter Lakes School thinks it has found a solution.

The Coquille School District’s attendance team has created an incentive program for students, or what is being called the Winter Lakes Student Store. Students can earn “Winter Bucks” by attending and bonus bucks for perfect attendance throughout the week.

Students can take those Winter Bucks and exchange them for prizes that include gift cards, snacks and even a Chromebook.

According to a press release about the program, students can also earn Winter Bucks every two weeks after a progress report is done. If a student has completed “100 percent production level for that reporting period, (they will) receive a five dollar bonus,” the release said.

“This idea came from our attendance team, which is our attendance secretary and attendance advocate, Jennifer Sweeney who is on special assignment to deal with our chronic absenteeism problem, and our vice principal,” said Tony Jones, Winter Lakes principal. “We are just getting to the implementation phase.”

This new incentive program has been six weeks in the making. Next week, the physical store is set to open and the Winter Lakes attendance secretary has already calculated points students have earned throughout the school year so far that can be turned into Winter Bucks.

“So far, students are abuzz about it,” Jones said. “No one has prizes at this point, but they are excited to have already earned Winter Bucks, that they already have something to cash in.”

Winter Lakes has never done this before, or at least nothing “as well orchestrated by any means,” Jones said.

“A couple years ago we came up with the idea of employability credits, which were elective, and was a combination of coursework and diligence,” he said. “A student would similarly earn points with perfect attendance and getting schoolwork done.”

He expressed appreciation for the attendance team’s creativity.

“I think students will not only benefit from it, but get the idea of the importance of attendance, be diligent and steady and come to school every day,” he said.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.