By Mary Senter
Character is an important virtue, often emphasized in schools. As a word, the term “character” has a variety of meanings, but there is usually no mistake when its germane definition is used to describe or imply moral excellence.
Webster’s defines the noun as, “the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone’s personality.” And as the presidential election of 2016 approaches, there is no better time to study the word and its meaning.
To emphasize this important virtue, students at Parkdale Elementary School have made a conscious effort to focus on their own character development. Thanks to the school’s Adopt-a-School partner, Waco Rotary Club, the school is able to participate in a powerful program called, Early Act First Knight (EAFK), which reinforces daily character education in elementary and middle schools.
The program uses a creative approach to teach and motivate students to become more civil, service-oriented people during their most formative years. To instill the valuable character-building lessons for young students, EAFK uses the exciting world of gallant knights and chivalry in a thematic approach to character education.
Throughout the year, Parkdale Elementary students will participate in six knighting ceremonies that focus on a different character virtue every six weeks. Each teacher selects a student who best exhibits the character trait practiced in class during the six weeks.
During the first formal ceremony of the school year, the student recipients received a medal while their specific character traits and accolades were read in front of their parents and peers.
Early Act First Knight Training Director Cass Garcia, who also goes by the alias “Sir Cass,” congratulated the student honorees for learning about the character trait, but also for “being an example of someone who has used them.”
In addition to receiving a medal, the fifth-grade students were “knighted” by Sir Cass, who used a real sword and three ceremonial taps to the shoulder of his newest young knights.
Many great historians, philosophers, and well-respected people have applied their own wisdom to the interpretation of “character” but few are as straightforward and succinct as that of the coaching legend, John Wooden, who defined character by, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
Thanks to Waco Rotary Club and Early Act First Knight, students at Parkdale Elementary will not only learn about character traits, but their good deeds will be positively rewarded throughout the year, even when they think no one is watching.
And at the end of the year, these students, their teachers and parents will know that chivalry is very much alive at Parkdale Elementary School.