News from the North House News and Reflections from the Middle School

virtue |ˈvərCHo͞o | noun -- 1 behavior showing high moral standards: paragons of virtue.• 2 a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person: patience is a virtue.• 3 a good or useful quality of a thing: Mike was extolling the virtues of the car | there's no virtue in suffering in silence. •

In the opening of his book, The Road to Character, David Brooks reflects on two different sets of virtues: external virtues that are highlighted in resumes and internal virtues that are often highlighted during major life moments (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, eulogies).

Most would agree, he points out, that the most important in life are the internal virtues--honesty, kindness, faithfulness, courage, grit...those that “exist at the core of your being.” Yet, the author confesses, he spent many long stretches of his life focusing solely on the virtues of his resume. The external successes of careers, financial gain, and developing useful skills for the job market often dominate our daily lives throughout our school years and adulthood.

Resume skills are absolutely necessary. But, on the other hand, no one wants to hire the guy with a reputation for avoiding his responsibilities. No one wants to work with the woman that is rude and self-seeking or the person that habitually calls off when the current project becomes stressful.

More than we may realize, core internal virtues become the scaffolding that supports the construction of the more success-driven, external virtues that we place on our resumes. And these virtues, just as much as our resume skills, need to be worked on and refined throughout our lives.

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, rather, we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” --Aristotle

Students recently explored “resume virtues” quite literally through a focus class on resume-writing. They wrote their own resumes using experiences from leadership and managerial positions at school as well as outside accomplishments to show their growing success.

For 7th level students, these resumes will be used when they apply for new positions in North House Specialties and other leadership roles for their 8th level year. For 8th level students, these resumes were handed to actual managers and business owners in town for their current business internships. The Learned Owl, Amaize, Peace, Love, and Little Donuts, All Brides Beautiful, Yours Truly, Uncommon Art, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (Cleveland) have all been gracious in hosting our 8th level students for this important work this year.

Internships are part of a culminating experience in our microeconomy program. It is a chance for soon-to-be graduates to practice their business and work skills in the greater community outside of HMS--a chance to reveal and build-upon those important resume skills.

The internal virtues required to scaffold those “success” skills are brought to light through internships, as well. Respect, kindness, listening, hard work, and personal responsibility are among the skills necessary for successful collaboration in the workplace. These virtues are always emphasized in the work of the middle school.

The adolescent, especially in their early years, is particularly sensitive to the social and moral complexities of these virtues and their role in a community. It is important for adults, while understanding that it is truly the work of the adolescent to navigate and solve the social challenges of community life, to guide and encourage the best of virtues in the young people in our lives.

They will face challenges, but with guidance and encouragement it is in those challenges that deeper development often takes place--the kind that builds up those core internal virtues necessary for the proper construction of a successful life.

"You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave. Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning." --David Brooks, The Road to Character

As we venture forth into the big, collaborative projects and trips that Spring has to offer, our community will strive to collaborate ethically and hold one another accountable for choices we make. We have many successes as a community to celebrate, and many more to come before the year’s end!

Model UN Update

The Model UN team has been hard at work preparing for their trip to New York next week!

They've been working on their presentation boards, which provide key information related to the countries they're representing: China, Brazil, and Morocco.

The "delegates" have also been refining their opening speeches, both in word and in delivery. They will use these at the conference to inform all the delegates of their country's position on a topic.

Practice in volume and diction are important for preparation:

Meanwhile, a couple of our students have been working hard on a Youth Impact Forum project, which they will present to UN officials and entrepreneurs at the Model UN conference. This division of the Model UN assists students in taking action that could make a real difference in their community or the world.

For their project, they are partnering with the U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants to provide backpacks full of supplies to refugee children entering the country through Cleveland. There will be a fundraising event at the school this Spring to collect the supplies (more info to come)!

As part of their preparation, they visited the U.S. Committee's office in Cleveland to meet the staff, help with English classes ...

... and deliver a few "trial" backpacks to eager and thankful parents.

The team leaves on Wednesday for the conference in New York City!

If you're interested in watching the closing ceremony, which will be held in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations headquarters, on Saturday, March 23rd, tune in here: webtv.un.org .

The telecast will begin at 9am with the elementary division. The middle school ceremony will begin shortly after.

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