(Note: The Ole Seagull has a “mind block” this week and would share a special column from the past. Come to think of it, in terms of overall good to our community, this column is of much more value than the one he has been “fighting with” for the past four hours.)
Character can be defined as “moral or ethical strength” or “the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another.” It is not a matter of whether or not a person, group or thing is going to have character, they are; it’s just a matter of what type of character they are going to have good, bad, or indifferent.
Very few, if any, people are born “good” or “bad.” From an individual perspective, character is acquired. It is learned and developed on a daily basis based on environmental factors and the choices that individuals make about how they live their lives and what they fill their minds with.
Proverbs said it first, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” In an Ole Seagulls life this basic truth has evolved into a simple irrefutable master guide line, “We will become what we think we are and that is controlled by what we have placed in our minds.”
That’s why the Ole Seagull took note as Sue Head from College of the Ozarks and Cindy Raines from White River Electric explained the First PLACE, “Partners, Linking Arms for Character Education,” program at the Jul. 11 meeting of the Branson Board of Aldermen. The simple program uses a combination of our areas schools, the community, and family to fill the minds of our children with positive character traits that can forever change their lives.
The program is elegant in its operational simplicity. Each month of the school year, the schools will emphasis and intentionally teach one character trait. That trait will be constantly reinforced during the month not only at school but throughout the community as “partners,” and family reinforce the trait by committing to demonstrate one visible action each month that ties into the trait.
Our areas schools and teachers have been preparing for this program and are committed to it. Our community and families must also do their part so that the traits being taught in school are reinforced throughout the month. The only thing those outside the school have to do is commit to demonstrating one visible action each month that ties into the character trait of the month.
As an example, the trait of the month for September is, “Respect – treating others with courtesy and honor.” What an impact it could have if that trait was specifically mentioned during Sunday school, in sermons, in newspaper stories or columns, on radio shows, or appeared on various marquees around town. How about banks and utility companies sending out a little card or message tying in the trait of the month that customers could share with their children or grandchildren? Just think of the impact that a simple hand painted sign or poster or 8 x 11 inch piece of paper with the trait of the month displayed in businesses and offices throughout our community could have!
The neat thing is that the possibilities are endless and require so little, just the commitment to demonstrate one visible action each month that ties into the character trait of the month. Aren’t our community’s children and grandchildren worth the effort?
From a family perspective it could be as simple as writing the character trait of the month on a piece of paper and putting it on the door of the refrigerator or simply asking the children in the family what the character trait of the month is and what it means to them. Again, simple is good and the possibilities are endless.
In terms of becoming a partner in the program, The Ole Seagull is committing to incorporate the trait of the month into each column he writes during the school year. Further, the first column of each month will be based on the trait of the month.
The character traits for each month are as follows: September – Respect – treating others with courtesy and honor; October – Responsibility – taking ownership of what you say and do; November – Citizenship – being loyal to your country; December – Compassion/Kindness – caring for others; January – Commitment – being true to your word; February – Honesty – being truthful in what you say and do; March – Cooperation – working together toward a common goal; April – Perseverance – demonstrating persistent determination; May – Self-discipline – training and control of yourself.
The Ole Seagulls favorite verse of scripture is, “Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, of excellence, or worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” As a community and as individuals, the First Place program provides the opportunity to not only “dwell on these things” but make them a vital part of the lives of our children and grandchildren, ourselves, and the very community that we call home.