FARNHAMVILLE - When a teacher wants students to clean their lockers, it may not seem like anything out of the ordinary. When Harpo Radio Inc. wants kids to organize their lockers, it's a big deal.
Just ask Deb Benton-Gevock, seventh- and eighth-grade literature teacher at Prairie Valley Middle School. She spoke with Peter Walsh, organizer for TLC's hit TV show Clean Sweep and host of a segment of Oprah and Friends on Oprah's XM satellite radio station this spring.
"I entered a question on Oprah's Web site for Peter," she said. "I asked for suggestions on how to help my seventh- and eighth-grade students at Prairie Valley keep their lockers organized."
Walsh interviewed Benton live during his Oprah and Friends broadcast. Not only did he commend her efforts, he provided extra incentives.
"Suggest to the kids a competition for the most organized locker in the school," he told her. "And here's the reward: the kids who win the competition get a gift certificate."
Walsh sent Benton $300 in Office Max gift certificates. She used the certificates to purchase supplies to help students keep lockers organized.
She purchased locker shelves, magnetic pencil holders, clips, pocket organizers, notepads and other items for the students to use.
As far as the contest, four names were drawn to receive the "piles of stuff," Benton said.
"The students had to clean their lockers to be allowed to enter the contest," she said.
Seventh-grader Tristan Petersen admitted his locker had a way to go before he was able to enter the contest. He ended up one of the winners.
"This definitely makes it easier to get stuff when you need it for classes," he said.
The second seventh-grade winner, Clayton Taylor, agreed, saying "It is important to have clean lockers so you can get ready for class."
For the other two winners, the results had a more long-term impact.
"The contest was good motivation to get the locker clean and keep it clean," said eighth-grader Andrew Gibbs.
And Brooke Lautner, an eighth-grader and the only girl winner, said, "Winning is important because the kids who actually clean their lockers should be rewarded for it."
It was all grins and giggles when they thought about Oprah helping them organize their lockers.
Contact Angela Burch at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org