Queensbury Union Free School District kicked off its Character Strong campaign this week, engaging students in all four buildings. The mission of Character Strong is to create a school district that focuses on engagement, well-being and belonging.
“The sessions held at the beginning of the year focus on establishing and maintaining a supportive, respectful community within each classroom,” said Michael Brannigan, the director of Social and Emotional Learning and School Development. “Students create norms and classroom systems that shape a positive learning environment.”
Lessons began this week in individual classrooms from universal prekindergarten through 12th grade. Queensbury Middle School hosted large group assemblies, and Queensbury High School held a school-wide virtual meeting Wednesday morning.
Discussions at the high school will focus on making connections and finding communities within the building, said QHS Principal Andy Snide.
“High school is not only academics,” Snide told students, “it’s understanding who you are as a person — forming values and understanding what you truly believe in. In order to gain that information and build those values, you need to know what other people believe in as well.”
Throughout the year, students, faculty and staff will engage in regular sessions centered on grade-level-specific themes such as respect, empathy, cooperation, gratitude, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, courage and creativity.
Students will participate in interactive games, lessons and collaborative work to encourage the social and emotional skills necessary for success in today’s world. As students progress through the middle school and high school years, they will focus on goal-setting, honoring value systems, differences and honing leadership skills.
“We want to make sure that this is a safe space to talk about things,” Snide said, “learn about others, find experiences that you may not know about and really just understand who the people are that you are walking through the hallways with.”