Otto the Orange made a grand appearance recently at the McEvoy Education Campus of Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES, where nearly 100 students and staff greeted the Syracuse University mascot with hugs and high-fives.
Otto was invited to Cortland for a celebration of a building-wide initiative called Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, or PBIS. The initiative embraces the building’s four core values: generosity, belonging, independence and collaboration.
Principal CaroleAnn Davies said these core values are central to McEvoy.
“It drives everything we do,” she said.
Students are rewarded for positive behavior with in-house currency called “BOCES bucks,” which they can use to buy items at the school store and attend special events.
Otto, however, was a free event for all the special-needs students and staff.
Students gathered in the cafeteria for an ice cream social and greeted Otto with chants of “Go, SU!” as he bounded into the room. They hugged him, shook his hand, put their arms around him, gave him an occasional kiss and took dozens of photos with him using signs, shiny pom-poms and other props. The event was especially significant in light of the groundswell of excitement surrounding the March Madness basketball tournament.
Teaching Assistant Karen Leonard said the school’s PBIS committee was thrilled with Otto’s visit – and with the overall success of the program.
“PBIS has made a huge improvement in our building,” she said.
In addition to Leonard and Davies, members of the PBIS committee include Renee Mitchell-Compton, Dennis Kennedy, Bobby Brull, Siani Amidon, Sue Thomas and Cheryl Rogers.