W.C. Williams Elementary School first-grader Aniyah Ellis, seated, and her classmate, Trinity Martin, read the printed message on the book bag.

Students usually are recognized or presented an award at the end of the school year for performing well on state tests, exhibiting good behavior or accomplishing classroom expectations.

This year, however, W.C. Williams Elementary School Principal Charles Johnson decided to put the cart before the horse, by giving away book bags the first week of the new school year. This is a part of the school’s student incentive program.

Johnson distributed book bags to almost 300 kindergarten through sixth-grade students on Tuesday. He called the giveaway “an award for things to come.” He said that there are strings attached to the incentive.

“Expectations come with the book bags,” he said. “Those expectations include students doing their very best academically and modeling good behavior in the classroom and cafeteria, on the school bus and any other school setting.”

He told students that they are ambassadors for the school and that they should always put their best foot forward. He also emphasized to the students that an empty book bag serves no purpose.

“I need you to have a book in your book bag every day,” Johnson said. “I need your parents or guardians to read to you every night. Just like studying for a test will help you pass the test, reading a book every night will help make you a better reader.”

“I appreciate Principal Johnson’s efforts to start his school year on a positive note,” said Superintendent Montrell Greene. “It’s good he’s motivating students from day one.”

Johnson said parents are still registering students for school, and he plans to make sure every child enrolled receives a book bag.

“The message on the bag reads ‘I’m committed to W.C. Williams Elementary: Winning Wildcat’s Movement,’” he said. “We’re trying to promote school pride and literacy.”

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