OGDEN -- The hottest new cliques at Ben Lomond and Ogden high schools do not require athletic skills, a great wardrobe or the goal to be a future business leader.
The full-hour lunch club is open to all students who keep their grades up and their tardies down. Students who do not earn the hour lunch privilege get only the usual 30 minutes to eat, plus a half hour of tutoring or detention.
The schools began the incentive program at the start of this school year. Student reaction was positive, and teens are showing up on time and working hard for higher grades and the chance for a longer lunch break.
And the less exclusive the "hour lunch club" becomes, the happier administrators will be.
"Schoolwide, the culture has changed," said Ben Lomond principal Ben Smith. "Everybody is focused on improving behavior and academics. We are seeing lots of improvement, and hope to see more."
At Ogden High, the biggest change has been in tardies.
"The drop in tardies from the fourth term of last year to this term was 2,111," a 33 percent decrease, said Don Mendenhall, assistant principal at Ogden High. "The term that just ended was at 4,212 tardies. We can't be sure of all the factors, but our PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) is the main factor. And it's fun to watch students rushing to class."
To qualify for an hour lunch, which comes with the option of eating off campus, students must keep all their weekly grades higher than D or F. More than three tardies in a three-week period disqualifies a student from the hour-lunch reward.
Of Ben Lomond High's 1,050 students, about 450, nearly 43 percent, qualify for the hour-long lunch.
And of Ogden High's 1,168 students, about 705, or 60 percent, qualify as of this week.
Early on, Mendenhall posted signs intended to goad Ogden High students into working their hardest to beat the Scots, their sports rival.
"Just a little friendly competition," Mendenhall said, laughing. "I was just trying to keep the kids motivated."
He and Morris both praised teachers who tutor or help supervise during the refigured lunch period.
"Most teachers seem happy to do it because they can see what a difference it is making," Morris said.
According to the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports website, www.pbis.org, the techniques have been used in more than 9,000 schools in 40 states.
Before adopting the system, Ogden School District administrators traveled to Palisades High School in Grand Junction, Colo., to observe the system in action.
"They had been doing it for five years," said Ed Morris, Ben Lomond High vice principal. "We based our system on theirs. There are some things we do differently to make it our own."
Morris said Palisades High students rebelled against changes at first because it shortened the pre-existing hour lunch, and seemed like a punishment rather than an incentive. Administrators didn't see positive results until the second year of the positive behavior system.
For Ogden and Ben Lomond students, a half-hour lunch was the norm, so the prospect of an hour was new and positive.
On Friday, Ben Lomond teacher Karen Driscoll's students cheered for students who had earned their lunch privilege cards, a photo ID to be worn in the cafeteria or while leaving campus. Students commiserate with one peer whose card was taken away.
Senior Chris Hernandez, 17, said he recently raised his grade point average from 0.8 to 3.7.
"My goal is 4.0," he said. "I am more focused on getting work done. Before, there was no reason to do it. Before, I would not have the grades for college. Now I will."
Hernandez said he had hoped to go to Dixie College, which has a flexible admissions policy.
"With better grades I have options," he said. "I'd like to study carpentry and construction, or sports medicine."
Seth Cervantes, 17, said the system motivates her to try for even higher grades. Now a senior, she raised her average up from 2.0 as a sophomore to 3.3 as a senior.
"I see myself with a future now, getting scholarships and going to college," said Cervantes, Ben Lomond student body vice president. She will study business and psychology.
"I have only gotten my card taken away one week. I like to have the card, but I usually take the tutoring instead of the hour lunch. I want to get my grades up more to get ahead for college."