A school in Philadelphia is offering cash incentives to students in order to make them stop fighting. In this representational image, one and five dollar bills are displayed in San Anselmo, California, Aug. 29, 2017. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The principal of a school in Philadelphia is paying the students to make them stop fighting.

According to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Principal Stephanie Andrewlevich of Mitchell Elementary at 55th Street and Kingsessing came up with an initiative which involved giving $100 to the students of eighth-grade if they made it till graduation without any fighting.

It resulted in the students going without engaging in any physical alterations for the 70th day, as of Friday. This was perceived as quite an achievement as the students were surrounded by an environment which was violent in nature.

A 14-year-old student, Mikel Lindsay, said he knew what people thought of him when they saw he studied at Mitchell Elementary School.

“People look at me and say, ‘You should be fighting,’” said Lindsay.

The school was situated in one of the most violent parts of Philadelphia — Kingsessing, according to data from police authorities. Eighty one percent of the school’s students live below the poverty line and some were homeless, hungry while a few others were growing up on their own.

By the month of February in the 2015-16 school year, a quarter of the students studying in eighth-grade were suspended at least once. Also, according to a school district measurement which ranks the schools in categories like school atmosphere, academics and development, Mitchell Elementary School scored 3, the report said.

But, Andrewlevich’s work in the school has resulted in the institution faring better in both the above aspects i.e. in bringing down the number of suspended eighth-graders and improving its position in the school district measurement. The plan to give $100 to the students was Andrewlevich’s idea. It was not only aimed at maintaining peace among senior students, but also throughout the institution.

Andrewlevich said, “I wanted to challenge them [students] to be what their families see in them, what we know they are.”

“They have a choice — to become the violence they see in their day-to-day lives, or to be peaceful models for our school and our community,” she added.

Andrewlevich, who is now in her third tenure as the principal of the school, ideated the plan to give an incentive to the students for their good behavior in September after the eighth-grade students went on an Outward Bound trip. The principal said she saw the students collaborating with each other, sharing food and they also ensured that no classmate was left out.

However, afterward when Andrewlevich searched for the term “Philly teens” on Google, she found a slew of negative news related to the topic which included instances of shootings, drugs and fights resulting in dire consequences, the report said.

These reports shocked her because the students Andrewlevich knew were funny and also smart even if they weren’t perfect. They had the capability to do great things, and had dreams, she said.

Andrewlevich soon realized that the eighth-grade students would eventually leave the elementary school and join a tougher atmosphere in high school. This was the reason Andrewlevich started the group challenge wherein if one of the students in the class engaged in violent behavior, then the whole class would lose money.

Andrewlevich is hoping that this plan would be supported by a sponsor, but she also committed to financing the plan with $3300. Andrewlevich told her students that conflict and anger were natural and both could be handled without engaging in physical altercations.

Although a widespread change in the thinking of the students seemed secondary at first, the students were motivated to behave better due to the monetary incentive, the report said.