Students at Le Roy Junior-Senior High School are helping younger students in Batavia, New York to “Believe In” developing good character, a new program aimed at strengthening the bond between schools while encouraging positive behavior.
In mid-May, the entire student body at Le Roy traveled to Wolcott Street Elementary School, where students partnered with youngsters to talk about why it’s important to display good character, The Batavian reports.
“The Jr.-Sr. High School divided the school into 30 teams that each connected with an elementary class. Each team had a student leader who facilitated the group through an introduction and a discussion around our ‘Believe In …’ visual, which listed key character traits and behaviors (Believe In … doing the right thing, kindness, honesty, acceptace, helping others, teamwork, being brave, dreaming big, and yourself),” according to a release from school officials.
“The students participated in sharing why, when, and how they show these qualities on a daily basis. Then students paired up and created their own ‘Believe’ rock, listing their chosen top character quality along with a picture.”
Public schools are often wary of talking specifically about moral behavior. Here by letting students take the lead, the why, when, and how of moral behavior are all discussed. This particularity is commendable. James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, counsels, “There have never been ‘generic’ values of the sort that typical moral education programs pursue. No one has ever believed in kindness or honesty without understanding them in the concrete circumstances of a moral culture embedded in a moral community” (The Tragedy of Moral Education in America, p. 59). The candor by which students are discussing moral traits, the contextualizing of these behaviors, and then making them “cool” is all very commendable.
The groups shared their rocks and discussed why they chose the particular character quality. The rocks were then put on display at both schools. The meeting followed up on other work between the schools, including posters elementary students decorated for the high school and a video of a “Believe” song recorded by the elementary school students and edited by the high-schoolers that was screened at the recent get-together.
The collaboration was coordinated by the elementary school’s Emerging Knights student leadership team, as well as administrators and character education teams at both schools.
“We cannot thank our students, staff and transportation team enough for their participation and making this district-wide event such a huge success!” officials wrote.
“The event was the first of its kind at our district and was a powerful moment for everyone involved,” school officials wrote. “The elementary teachers had a chance to see their old students come back to their classrooms, and the interaction between younger and older students was incredible.”
Teachers working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students may find the UK's The Jubilee Centre offers "The Knightly Virtues Programme" which is worthwhile to review for assistance on how to instill virtue in students using books students love to read. The Knightly Virtues Programme is designed to enhance virtue literacy through stories, has been incredibly popular with both teachers and students. So far, over 20,000 primary school pupils have had access to the programme, making it one of the largest projects of its kind. The research project has now concluded, and the full report is available here.