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'Dog-tag' program well-received by students at Center Elementary

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader
Students at Center Elementary are earning 'dog tags' as part of a new math fluency program. Teacher Peggy Mankovich hands out the initial dog tags to students (from left) Brandon Litzinger, second grade; Emil Heintzinger, kindergarten; Kaylie Osborne, kindergarten; Kate Monick, second grade; Leah Hutchin, fourth grade; and Dylan Akut, fourth grade.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader Students at Center Elementary are earning 'dog tags' as part of a new math fluency program. Teacher Peggy Mankovich awards Brandon Litzinger, second grade, Emil Heintzinger, kindergarten, Kaylie Osborne, kindergarten, Kate Monick, second grade, Leah Hutchin, fourth grade and Dylan Akut, fourth grade, with their initial dog tags.

Dylan Akut is proud of his brother who has been in the military for two years.

Akut, 10, a fourth-grader at Center Elementary in the Plum School District, is more eager than ever to talk with his brother, Zach Akut, 22, a U.S. Marine who is at boot camp in North Carolina, about something the brothers now have in common.

Dylan wants to tell Zach about the “dog tags” he received for his performance in a math fluency program at Center.

Zach wears dog tags that identify him as a member of the military.

“I haven't gotten to see (Zach) yet,” Dylan said.

“I will tell him about the dog tags we have.”

Center Elementary Principal Jeff Hadley recently started the program.

Hadley said the students in kindergarten through sixth grade receive the metal tags on chains once they pass timed tests in certain benchmarks at each grade level.

Teachers periodically give the written tests.

The tags have the Plum School District logo and Plum mustang on one side and an example of a math problem that the student has mastered on the other side.

Hadley said Center's PTA raised money for the dog tags.

“Our goal with this new math fluency incentive is to ensure we have a dedicated focus on mastering basic math facts while at the same time making this learning motivating and fun for students,” Hadley said.

Peggy Mankovich, a fourth-grade teacher at Center, said the program that is just a couple of weeks old has been well-received by students.

“It motivates them to be excited to learn their (math) facts,” Mankovich said.

Leah Hutchison, 10, a fourth-grader, has two dog tags for multiplication and division.

“It is fun and educational,” Hutchison said. “I like math.”

Kate Monick, 8, a second-grader, each day wears her two dog tags for mastery in addition and subtraction.

“My parents are proud of me,” Monick said.

Brandon Litzinger, 9, a second-grader, described his dog tags as “awesome.”

Hadley is pleased to see the students proudly wearing their dog tags every day.

“We can't wait to see our students earn these dog tags and get the recognition they deserve for their hard work and mastery of grade level math fluency benchmarks,” Hadley said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753, or

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