Chardon High School

Working with Students and Partners in Ohio Schools

Last week, Laura Beth, Kyle and I took a road trip to Cleveland, OH and spent a week with educators, School Resource Officers, and students. It was a blast and we can’t wait to share the highlights with you!

Monday

The Town of Chardon and the broader Northeast Ohio region have a special place in our heart. Throughout graduate school, the Actively Caring group from VT  and I traveled over 12,000 miles from Blacksburg, VA to Northeast, OH and back to deliver workshops to Chardon HS after their 2012 shooting and neighboring schools.  Although Monday of last week marked the 5th year anniversary of their shooting (read Blog by Chardon alumnae Kaylynn Hill), it was also a day of idea generation and sharing of best practices at a conference held by the Coach Hall Foundation: Providing a safe environment for our school children: A layered approach. We presented with speakers who shared our passion for violence prevention and more compassionate schools, including representatives from Chardon High School, Ohio Department of Education, National Association of School Resource Officers, and Sandy Hook Promise.

Personally, it was humbling to present at this event. Sports Illustrated refers to the Coach Frank Hall as an “american hero” for his courage after he chased the shooter out of the Chardon school building. When we visited Chardon for the first time in May 2012, we delivered a school-wide assembly and held breakout sessions. I remember Coach Hall encouraging some of his more quiet football players to “speak up and share ideas” in my student group as we led a workshop on healing, care, and community building.

Laura Beth, Kyle, Shane of the Cor Foundation & Coach Frank Hall, Principal Andy Fetchik

Laura Beth, Kyle, Shane of the Cor Foundation & Coach Frank Hall, Principal Andy Fetchik

We shared our story, research and programming with the 140+ conference participants (educators and School Resource Officers) at the Paradigm building in Mentor, OH. The response was overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to more partnerships with more northeast OH schools in Fall 2017.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, we finalized training and plans for our forthcoming Actively Caring summit on Friday at Berkshire HS (Burton, OH). Then, we drove to the beautiful new school building of Streetsboro High School for a workshop on goodness friendships. Inspired by an article in About Campus by Dr. Frank Shushok, which highlights the three types of friendships as defined by Aristotle, our Program Director Kyle Pacque developed a new workshop about pleasure, utility, and goodness friends.  We believe our workshop on goodness friends is one of the most important ways for us to promote personal well-being, a positive school climate and a more connected society.

Wednesday

On wednesday, we visited students at Berkshire High School (Burton, OH) for a workshop on followership. Leadership seems to be the golden term. Everyone is told they should be a leader, but in reality, there are much more followers than leaders in teams. In order for students to accomplish critical team goals related to Actively Caring at their school, they must understand the types of followers. A search on Google books for leadership reveals 12,900,000 results compared to 73,000 for followership. Yes, 176 times more books on leadership than followership. Woah!  In his article, In Praise of Followers, Robert Kelly discusses four types of followers: sheep, “yes” people, and alienated followers, and effective followers. During this workshop, students learn the causes and outcomes associated with each follower type and how to apply effective followership to their own life and club.

Then, Chardon Alumnae Kaylynn Hill and her friends in Actively Caring at Lakeland Community College met us at a unique coffee shop -- full of all antique furniture. They updated us on the progress of AC @ LCC and shared some stories.

Thursday

On Thursday, we delivered the followership workshop to the Chardon Leadership class. Formulated as a means to sustain the Actively Caring Club originally formed in 2012, Chardon’s Leadership class serves as a means to sustain Actively Caring programming and initiatives. Then, we drove to Cleveland to meet with Seema Sharma, our new Kevin R. Lawall Fellow, who will deliver the middle school curriculum at East Clark K-8 school in East Cleveland. Laura Beth and I trained her on the research and middle school program.  For dinner, we joined Alexis and Dana of Centreville High School (VA) to share more about our work and the students in these Ohio schools.

Friday

Daily, high school students from neighboring schools are brought together to compete, but on this Friday, March 3rd, 75 high school students from four high schools focused on collaboration rather than competition. We partnered with Berkshire Local Schools, Sandy Hook Promise, and the Coach Hall Foundation to connect, train and empower students from Berkshire Junior/Senior High School, Chardon High School, Mentor High School, and Streetsboro High School at the 2017 Actively Caring Summit.

The 2017 Actively Caring Summit was the third held in Northeast OH.

  • The Summit began with a message from Cor Foundation staff, Superintendent Doug DeLong of Berkshire Local Schools, along with Cor character coaches from Lakeland Community College and Allegheny College (Berkshire and Chardon HS alumnae)
  • Each high school received a tailored workshop based on their unique school issues and aspirations in order to ensure the sustainability of programming

  • Sandy Hook Promise Leader, Casey Durkin delivered the Sandy Hook Promise: Start With Hello presentation (Ohio Program Coordinator Patricia Parker-Perry and Tony Baker were present)

  • Student participants worked collaboratively through team-building exercises to develop cross-district relationships for future community-wide Actively Caring initiatives.

  • Students had a "family style" lunch to share ideas with students at different schools, provide new ideas for our mobile app, and work collaboratively.

For example, the marble run activity instructed students to get a marble (a gumball for us) from one cup to the other using half pipes. This required leadership (and followership) to emerge, students to communicate and provide feedback between attempts when failure occurred. The mixture of thoughtful activities with student discussion led to high engagement and meaningful connection to their respective clubs.

Recap

It was a busy, yet motivating, week in Ohio schools. We cannot wait to see Actively Caring continue to grow from these empowered student leaders!

Thanks for reading, Shane

 

Chardon: Five Years Later

Written by Kaylynn Hill

Today marks the five year anniversary of the shooting which devastated my high school. I’m Kaylynn Hill, a proud alumna of Chardon High School, who has grown up here my entire life.  As I reflect on the day, I wanted to share my story and the impact on my small town in Chardon, Ohio.

Currently, people often describe me as a kind and passionate leader, but this was not always the case. In fact, before the shooting, I was a very shy person. I did not really get involved in many school functions or even speak unless spoken to. As a sophomore, I did not have any plans after high school graduation or even concrete life goals for that matter. I was just a kid trying to get through my high school courses and go to football games with my friends. I fit perfectly into my small town of Chardon.

Chardon is the kind of small town where everyone knows one another. You can walk down the street with your dog and see your barber, your history teacher, or your mom’s childhood friend.  Chardon has always been a place where I just feel at home and so many others do too --  it was even recently named one of the best places to raise a family.

The morning of February 27th, 2012, shook the Chardon community to its core. I remember walking into my first period English class as if it was any other Monday morning. Why think otherwise? Of course, it was not just any Monday. Even five years later, I still have flashbacks when I hear sirens or wear the same shirt I wore on that day. Although February 27th turned into a day that the entire Chardon community will never forget, our healing process is the story I want to share -- it’s how we moved forward. One Heartbeat, One Community.

High schoolers never stop to think that a few moments can drastically alter the course of their life. The shooting was a turning point in my life and so many others because it reminds you how much you take for granted. We are so caught up in the rat race of making it through those four years that we never take a moment to appreciate the people and pleasant events that we have in our lives. February 27th opened our eyes to the fact that tragic things can happen anywhere, to good people, and even inside of our comfort zone in Chardon. It’s very easy to believe the tale of invincibility and go through life living the motions. The shooting really shook up those beliefs.

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For weeks following the shooting, Chardon was overflowing with cards, food, and other items from people all over the world who were expressing their condolences. People within the Chardon community were going out of their way to care for their neighbor.  I remember watching the superintendent in a press conference as he encouraged students to hug their parents a little tighter every morning and take the time to say “I love you”. I saw students who would have never spoken to one another checking in on their fellow peer. With all this kindness pumping into Chardon, we found ourselves asking, “How do we sustain the caring?”

A few months after the shooting, a group of Virginia Tech students came to deliver our first school-wide assembly at Chardon High since the shooting. This group was Actively Caring for People (now Actively Caring). While presenting, every single person was hanging onto the words of the student leader, Shane McCarty, who spoke Shane McCarty. Although there were over 1,000 students and faculty, you could hear a pin drop in the gymnasium. The Actively Caring message was simple: recognizing people for going above and beyond for each other. It was this presentation that helped so many people find their purpose after the shooting. This purpose was to serve others at school and in the community. I knew—Chardon knew—that Actively Caring would be the vessel in which we sustained the compassion after the shooting and begin to move forward in our healing process.

The construction of that vessel began immediately following the Actively Caring presentation. Students—including me—were invited to workshops with the Actively Caring coaches, where we were given the language and tools to bring Actively Caring into our school and into the surrounding community. We started with an appreciation luncheon for our school’s staff. Our focus was to give back to the many people who had helped us throughout our healing process. Throughout the next few years, the club expanded and completed other service-oriented events such as: a yearly Valentine’s Day dance for the elderly community, “Kick It For Cancer” kickball event, and creating a “27 Acts of Kindness” challenge. In addition, the college students from Virginia Tech (aka Actively Caring coaches) empowered us to go into our local middle schools to lead mini-lesson plans on how to bring Actively Caring into their school. Throughout all of these events, not only were we giving back to the community but we were also gaining transformational experiences ourselves. We were gaining leadership, communication, and service skills. Actively Caring empowered me to shift from the shy individual that I once was into a passionate leader.

I often think back to the morning that Actively Caring came to Chardon. It’s amazing that one or two events in your life can completely change your life course. Before Actively Caring, I did not have any clear goals that I wanted to achieve. It has become an integral part of my life. I brought Actively Caring with me to college. I mentor students on how to spread kindness in higher education. Through my mentorship role, I discovered my passion for making a positive impact on college students, and thus will be pursuing a masters in student affairs administration. Actively Caring has helped me realized my purpose to serve others and has given me the voice and the tools to create a lasting impact in the world around me.