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Elementary students embrace character exercises

In an effort to involve and engage families in conversations at home revolving around lessons learned in the classroom, Independence Elementary came up with “Character Dare” challenges. Each month, families are encouraged to tackle important conversations and acts surrounding character education at home.

“Independence values character education because we want to equip kids with the skills to become the best version of themselves,” said Emily Pavia, Independence principal. “We do not believe the learning that happens inside of our school building was meant to stay here. Partnering with families has been such a joy.”

One month, families were asked to have a family movie night and watch for a character who showed empathy toward another. After the movie, they could talk it over and explain who they saw caring for someone else.

One student said, “My family just talks about things like our feelings. The dares feel natural because having good character is important to us.”

Another said, “I liked getting to spend time with my whole family.”

Later in the year, when families took on a dare that consisted of completing a community outreach program, the results were profound.

Mr. Fall, fifth grade teacher, challenged his students to voluntarily do chores at home to earn money for a local nonprofit. Students researched organizations to support and then voted on a winner. His students raised $600 to support the St. Patrick’s Center, an organization that transforms lives through sustainable housing, employment and healthcare.

Fifth-grade parent Chrissy Widel hosted an assembly party at her house, where students used the money raised to put together 200 sack lunches for the St. Patrick’s Center.

“The best part of the entire experience was after everyone left our home and my son hugged me with tears in his eyes and told me he felt like his heart could burst because he was so excited to help so many people,” Widel said. “As a mama, I strive to raise honest, compassionate, responsible and respectful young men. We are blessed to be part of the Francis Howell School District.”

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