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Irving Middle School’s “Kind Cougars” are highlighting important character virtues in a series of “virtue of the month” videos to encourage classmates to be kind and thoughtful toward one another.

Norman, Oklahoma, students Sutton and Connor Willis, Eva Condon, and Nora and Luke Morrow acted out a school scenario to illustrate compassion for a February video, and encouraged their classmates to document and share compassionate acts on campus.

“Compassion means feeling sympathetic or pity for those who are hurting or in pain,” Luke Morrow said.

“We’re going to use the hashtag #IMSvirtues,” the students said. “Anytime you see someone showing compassion, take a picture and post it on Instagram with the hashtag.

“Any student who shares will be entered into a drawing to win a special prize.

Compassion is a virtue that researcher Jeff Guhin documented in many urban public schools through his research for the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture. In The Content of Their Character, a summary of character formation in a variety of schools, Guhin notes:

Alongside the focus at all six of the schools on student achievement, the teachers, staff, and administrators all deeply prized compassion, especially in each other, and then to some extent in their students.

The Kind Cougars video is part of an initiative with the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma, which offers further reading on compassion.

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