Henry Sibley High School honored at character recognition awards


submitted photo Henry Sibley High School received a 2019 Minnesota Promising Practices Award from Synergy & Leadership Exchange May 23 at the Character Recognition  Awards in St. Paul. (front, L-R) Ben Geiger(teacher), Sam Gore (Student)  (back, L-R) Jon Althoff, (community member and mentor) Brenda Dietrich (community member and mentor), Stephanie Levine (ISD 197 Board Member, Ben Kusch (Tri-District Lead Designer)

Henry Sibley High School received a 2019 Minnesota Promising Practice Award at the Character Recognition Awards May 23 in St. Paul. Henry Sibley High School was one of seven schools and three community programs honored by Synergy & Leadership Exchange for excellence in character and ethical leadership development. The celebration coincided with Gov. Tim Walz’s Character Recognition Day proclamation. 

The award was received for the practice, “Warrior Seminar,” a course to support freshman students in the transition to high school, provide opportunities for career and college exploration, and build social skills. Ideas from the Warrior PRIDE framework (Preparation, Respect, Integrity, Determination, Excellence) are interwoven with lessons and activities from a character development curriculum that helps students better understand habits that shape their behavior. Teachers, community mentors, guest speakers, and upper-class students provide guidance and knowledge for freshman to evaluate themselves and find their drive in high school and beyond.

“Meeting juniors and seniors to talk about opportunities and challenges has been a great way for freshman to feel connected and understand why character counts,” said teacher Benjamin Geiger. “In the first few weeks, positive interactions with administrators and counselors set the tone for how students perceive these individuals and how they can help shape their character over the next four years. Adding community members to speak about businesses and personal experiences gives students another caring adult voice to foster their development.” 

The Minnesota Promising Practices Award celebrates unique and effective practices schools have created that promote character development. The practices are shared on the Synergy website to serve as an idea generator for other schools. Synergy has presented 94 Minnesota Promising Practices Awards since 2008. 

“In a time when divisive, negative news dominates the headlines, it is inspiring to see the great things students, schools, community groups and individuals are doing to encourage and promote good character and ethical leadership in Minnesota,” shared Wanda Sommers Wall, executive director for Synergy & Leadership Exchange. 

Synergy & Leadership Exchange hosts the Character Recognition Awards each year to spotlight schools and community programs with exemplary efforts, motivate honorees for continued effort and success, and inspire others with examples to replicate. 

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