Welcome back to school! As we start year three of our charter school, we have so much to celebrate: Tremendous academic achievement growth (highest growth in the state a year ago for large high schools!); WASC 6 year "clear" term of accreditation (the best term possible!); Student enrollment at capacity with 400 students on the wait list to be accepted; Invitation to speak before Congress due to our academic success; and the list goes on. CVCHS is a great school and we will continue to build upon that tradition this year as we focus upon literacy, critical thinking skills and developing the 21st century skills to better prepare all of our students for college and careers.
But I want to ask you an important question: When you think about what kind of traits you look for in your child's future spouse, what is the first trait that comes to your mind? What kind of person do you want your child to select? Is it a straight "A" report card that matters most? Is it a 2000 score on the SAT exam? Probably not. Most important to us would most likely be how kind, respectful, humorous, and considerate that other person is. What kind of character does that person have? How honest, committed, hardworking is that future son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
Clayton Valley Charter High School is very proud of our academic success. We have truly taken this school to new heights of achievement and are turning out students who are top thinkers, ready to take on the colleges and careers of their dreams. But we are also a school that believes in character education. If we graduated students who were really smart people but not good citizens, we would not have done our full job. In a 2009 survey of the top CEOs in America, the feedback showed that the most severe deficit in skill level was not reading, writing, or other academic skills, but rather personnel traits like work-ethic, perseverance, respect and other such attributes that a person of good character often shows.
At CVCHS we are working hard to develop student citizenship. We have embraced two complimentary character education initiatives. First, the City of Clayton's "Do the Right Thing" program has been a clear and pervasive articulation of important character traits since the inception of our charter. Most recently, we have added to this through our adoption of the "Character Counts" program. Created by the Josephson Institute, Center for Youth Ethics, this international effort helps schools build character education into the classroom curriculum. Both programs work well together to clearly establish character education as a fundamental component of the CVCHS experience. Our Link Crew program led by teacher Kat Marzel, does an excellent job of delivering this content and supporting it throughout the year. Link Crew is a class comprised on upper grade level student leaders who are paired up with underclassmen to support them in their high school journey.
We also have some high-impact, individual programs that support character education:
Back by popular demand, Challenge Day is coming to all CVCHS sophomores this year on August 25, 26, 27, 28 and September 5th. Challenge Day is a powerful program in which students and adult participants are guided through a series of experiential learning processes. The overall goal of the program is to increase personal power and self-esteem, to shift peer pressure to positive peer support and to eliminate the acceptability of teasing, violence and any form of oppression. This is a life changing experience for our students and our volunteers! To learn more about the Challenge Day program go to www.challengeday.org.
CVCHS has now completed our third annual summer transition. Facilitated by our Link Crew Leaders, all incoming CVCHS students experience a week of orientation and acclimation before the first day of school. The time is spent developing relationships with experienced high schoolers, learning about our campus and courses, and establishing a strong sense of the culture and expectations of being an Eagle! We have seen our incidents of negative student behavior plummet in the 9th grade as well as academic performance increase; both are due in large part to our transition program providing a critical head start!