Virtues promote healthy school culture

Guest blog by Josh Allen, East Gaston High School, Mount Holly, NC

In an effort to build strong character, East Gaston High School students recently participated in a program called Rachel’s Challenge.  Rachel Joy Scott was a student who died in the Columbine shooting.  A Colorado citizen, who is a friend of her family spoke to our school about an essay Rachel wrote as a high school student.  Her point was that, if people tried to be more compassionate and kind, the world would be a better place.

After hearing this message, students and faculty created a club called the Friends of Rachel Club (FOR).  This club isn’t unique to our school, but our students have really gotten behind the initiative. Their work in our school has made Rachel’s ideas a  powerful force in our school.

They recently sponsored events such as a “words of affirmation” chain where students wrote words of affirmation on small strips of paper that were then stapled together to form a chain.  Through the leadership of our FOR club, the chain was long enough to stretch from our high school to Charlotte, NC, 30 minutes away.

They also held a yard sale, with the profits going to local charities. They started “High Five Friday,” where students give each other high fives as a way to maintain a positive school culture.  They were Holy Angel volunteers in a community service project.  And they even received national attention for a video they produced about the need for compassion and kindness.  The success of these projects meant our school was awarded, “Most Active High School FOR Club.”

The participating students, and those they support in our school, are all better for this experience.  They model strong character, generosity, courage, and understanding for their peers. The school board has taken notice; the community has taken notice; the student body has been impacted (and will continue to be).  The six virtues are alive and well at my high school!

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