FORT MILL -- Justin Biddle just joined Riverview Elementary School's Breakfast Club.
For three weeks, the 10-year-old fourth-grader will arrive at school early and head to the cafeteria. He'll sit with other club members as they chow down and wait for principals to check their homework.
On Justin's first day in the club, assistant principal Travis Howard greeted him:
"Mr. Biddle, we know you have good talents and brains. ... We need to make sure you're doing your homework consistently sir, OK?"
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Justin replied softly: "OK."
The Breakfast Club, launched about eight years ago, has become a staple program at Riverview. Each morning, administrators meet with a group of children whom teachers and parents have recommended for a helping hand with their study habits.
Club members have teachers sign their homework assignment sheets before they leave school. When they complete the work, parents sign the sheet. The next morning a Breakfast Club administrator signs it to show it's all there.
"It's like FedExing the homework," said Principal Annette Chinchilla. "We're checking it at each level."
The program doesn't cost the school anything but time and effort. Howard, Chinchilla and other staffers spend part of their morning -- 7 to 8 a.m. -- with a rotating group of about 35 children.
Any student can join. Parents and teachers recommend those they think could benefit. The goal is to develop good study habits.
After three weeks of progress, club members graduate with a certificate. Some take longer.
"It's not just for students having difficulty," Howard said. "It's really about responsibility."
"We don't give them consequences," Chinchilla said. "It's about positive reinforcement."
Chinchilla and Howard believe the Breakfast Club exemplifies Riverview's philosophy.
Above the key hole in every door on campus is a worn, white sticker with three blue letters: WIT. "Whatever it takes," Howard said. "That's our mentality."
For teachers and staff, that means getting creative and volunteering time for special programs, meetings and events.
"We say it in our (job) interviews," Chinchilla said. "'We're a WIT school. You really have to have a passion about what you do to be here.'"
The onus is on administrators who must make time to engage children.
"When I was in school I didn't know my principal," Howard said. "I think it's important for students to know who I am."
Riverview has launched a slew of programs run by staff volunteers. They include:
• FRIENDS -- Friendship, Respect, Integrity, Education, Nonjudgmental attitude, Discipline, Super attitude. It's a leadership academy for boys led by Howard and three other male staffers.
• GIRLS -- Girls Interested in Real Life Skills is another leadership academy.
• Club PLANET -- Peers Learning About Nutrition and Exercise Together. It's an after-school club in which kids play games and learn to be healthy.
"It's amazing how getting someone else at school involved other than a teacher or parent makes a child respond," Chinchilla said.
On his first club day, Justin sat facing an array of worksheets fanned out across the table with his workbooks and binder.
"I'm going to let you handle that one, Travis," Chinchilla said laughing as she darted to another student. "My eyes would cross looking at all that."
Howard, grinning, looked over each assignment and jotted a check by Justin's name.
"Mr. Biddle, great first day, sir," he said. "Any questions?"
Justin said he's happy to be in the club.
"I think it's going to help me a lot, and I'll get better grades," he said. "All my teachers tell me I'm really smart. I'm just trying to do it for myself. To get in the habit of doing (homework) consistently."