Halifax Area School District’s Character Development "Discovery Process"
Building School Community by Creating a Culture of Character and Conscience
In the late 1980s, Halifax Middle School students and staff set out to purposefully change the culture and climate of the school. A few years later, Halifax High School followed suit by implementing the Discovery Program. Our Elementary also has implemented a formalized age appropriate character education process.
Halifax’s character education initiative has changed the very ethos of each school from places dominated by negative peer pressure to cultures in which students know that they will be supported when they have the courage to act responsibly and to choose to do what is right.
At the Middle School and the High School, students are organized into multi-grade small groups. By organizing students into multi-grade Discovery Groups, students meet regularly to participate in discussions and activities specifically designed to help them to develop good character, to make better choices, and to act with responsibility and consideration. The following principles and key words guide our discussions:
Five Guiding Principles
Destiny-Each of us is gifted with a unique potential that defines a destiny.
Humility-We trust in a power and purpose beyond ourselves.
Conscience-We achieve our best by an inner sense of right and wrong.
Truth-Honesty is our primary guide.
Brother’s Keeper-We help others achieve their best.
Discovery Key Words
Courage-to accept and face new challenges
Integrity-to be truly ourselves while acting with sound moral character
Curiosity-to explore life and learning
Leadership-in making the school and community a better place
Respect-for the environment, others, and ourselves
Responsibility-and accountability for our actions
Common Phrases and Principles to Follow:
- Leave a place better than you found it.
- Is this Your Best? Are you giving Your Best?
- Truthis our primary guide.
- Are you following the Golden Rule?
- Are you acting as a Brother’s Keeper?
- Are you being a Leader?
- What is your Consciencetelling you?
- Our actions affect others!
- You can’t control other people, but you can control yourself.
- Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?
- Will my words or actions make the situation betteror worse?
- It is natural to feel “fear or anger,” but it is better to respond through “compassion or concern.”
- We all have a purpose in life. When we are “on purpose,” our words and actions make the world a better place.
- We need to “Clear the Decks” to deal with issues.
- All kids want to do the right thing.
- Most parents are teaching right and wrong. Why are the expectations at school any different?
- Do what is right, not what is cool.
- What is discussed in the Discovery Room, STAYS in the Discovery Room. (This is true to a large extent to protect the feelings of those involved; however, there are important exceptions such as when a person is threatening to harm himself or another.)
- Character is what you say and do when no one else is looking.
Components of the Discovery Program at the Secondary Level:
- Seminar Lessons- We discuss and think about concepts of character and conscious because we know that if we want to change behavior, we must change attitudes, and if we want to change attitudes, we must change our thoughts.
- Intramurals- Athletic opportunity for all. We are not all gifted athletes, but we are challenged to give our personal best! We will be supportive and encouraging even as we push ourselves and others beyond our comfort zones.
- Performing Arts- Public performance opportunity for all. We are not all gifted performers, but we are challenged to give our personal best! We will be supportive and encouraging even as we push ourselves and others beyond our comfort zones.
- School Wide Jobs- It is everyone’s job to keep our school neat and clean. We want to leave places better than we find them.
- Community Service-We have a responsibility to help others and by helping others we do our small share to make our world a better place.
- Team Building Activities-As we learn to cooperate and to work together, we learn that it takes all of us working together and doing our part to make a positive and productive school and community.
Speak with one of the principals to learn more about how students and staff of the Halifax Area School District work together to create and maintain a supportive school culture – a culture that encourages all members of the school community to consider the consequences of their actions, and to know that their choices not only affect their own lives, but also the lives of others.