March 5, 2014 | 2041 views
Character counts at Memorial
At Memorial Junior High School, it’s important to get good grades but it’s also important to be a good person. Teachers and administrators want students to be of the highest character, often a tough goal to accomplish in a building with more than 1,000 teenagers.
The staff’s effort is making a difference, as Memorial has been named an Emerging School of Character by The Academy for Character Education. The school will receive its award at a ceremony on April 9.
“We’re very honored to have this award,” said Principal Anthony Mignella. “It means a lot for our school.”
Mignella said there are numerous programs that the school runs to teach children positive behavior. It all comes from the school’s BRAVE Committee, a collaboration of teachers and administrators who meet regularly to discuss ways to reduce bullying and foster character development.
Stand Up Day honors former health teacher Stephanie Ginsberg, who died in 2012. She created a program that teaches children to be kind and to stand up for others. This year’s Stand Up Day was a collaboration of Memorial students and their older counterparts at nearby Central High School.
In January, the school held No Name Calling Week. Students learned about sympathy, empathy and the emotional impact of mean statements. A Day of Sunshine on Feb. 7 was designed to brighten students’ spirits during a dreary winter. Students and teachers were asked to wear Hawaiian and brightly-colored shirts, and lunch periods had a summer theme.
Everyday on the morning announcements, students hear the phrase, “Make it a great day or not. The choice is yours.” Mignella said that he often hears them repeating it in the hallways.
In October, seventh- and eighth-grade students took a survey about the school climate. They were asked to identify areas where they felt safe, and also note spots where they felt bullying was prevalent. The results were then presented to the faculty, so they could be on alert in those problem areas.
The BRAVE Committee also tries to raise school spirit through numerous fundraisers. Committee members say it gets students to feel better about themselves in knowing they are helping others.