By Steve Raymond

News Report Staff

 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

 

These are words the Apostle Paul wrote for the people of Philippi, encouraging them to live a virtuous life.

And this is the same emphasis teachers and administrators at Sacred Heart School are using this year in their classrooms.

It’s a new program, developed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The objective is to not only introduce the students to different virtues, but to actually show how living by those virtues can lead to better, kinder lives.

“Sometimes, as adults, we take for granted that our kids know what things like respect and honesty are,” said Shauna Albert, the sixth grade homeroom and seventh and eighth grade English teacher at Sacred Heart School. “But they don’t always know. We believe this program will help with that.”

Last summer, Principal Vicki Wenthe, Lisa Rhodes, the school’s resource teacher, and Albert attended a conference in St. Louis that explained how the new virtue-based restorative program worked.

They were so impressed and inspired by what they heard, they brought the idea back to Sacred Heart School and it has taken off.

“At first it was like – ‘Where do we start?’” Albert recalled. “The first thing we did was narrow it down to nine virtues.”

Those nine virtues include – respect, patience, honesty, forgiveness, integrity, thankfulness, consideration, helpfulness and responsibility.

Each classroom teacher selected one of those virtues for their particular class. They not only explain and discuss that virtue with their students, they also share that virtue with the rest of the school.

Beginning in September, one virtue has been featured each month. For January, that was honesty, which was being handled by Albert’s sixth grade class.

On Thursday of each week – during the morning “Prayer at the T” – that class does something creative to show the importance and value of that particular virtue.

For example, the first week of January, Albert’s class did a short presentation about what an honest person is. The next two weeks were skits about cheating and another that showed a young boy stressing over whether to tell his mother he was responsible for breaking her mirror. The final week’s program was about lying.

The classes have really shown their creativity with these presentations. The seventh grade class used a game show theme to feature responsibility. The fourth grade class wrote a song and made posters to illustrate respect.

“All of these programs are helping incorporate these virtues into our entire school,” Albert said. “Hopefully, they will become good habits for our students. Hopefully, they will recognize when people are being honest or aren’t being honest with them and what that feels like.”

In addition, color posters hang in the school hallways as reminders about these virtues. There is also a prayer from Colossians that encourages a virtuous life.

And the school is using the word PEACE as a way of stressing the virtues, plus the value of loving and supporting each other in the way Jesus taught.

P – Practice using positive words

E – Evangelize and make Jesus the center of everything

A – Avoid judging or criticizing others

C – Challenge negativity in others around you

E – Every person has good qualities; look for and acknowledge those qualities in friends and family

Christy Hakman, the Marketing & Development Director of Sacred Heart Parish, said the teachers and principal at Sacred Heart School are “using the virtue-based program to not only create a positive school climate where students show their love for each other, but also to stifle any disciplinary issues.”

There are plans to take additional teachers to the conference next summer.

“They can go and get more ideas and keep building on this,” Albert noted. “It’s a wonderful program.”

“The goal of a virtuous life is to become more like Jesus and everyone at Sacred Heart School is striving for just that,” Hakman added.