In a school year that was thankfully void of social restrictions that the pandemic had imposed — first with mandatory time spent at home in the spring of 2020, and then social distancing and masking protocols throughout the majority of the 2021-2022 school year — Chaminade Julienne took a fresh look at how to best reacclimate students to social skills and reacquaint them with the art of being a community for each other.
Educating the Whole Person
In order to create a space for the important life lessons of social and emotional learning, self discovery, understanding others, and building fellowship, community, and meaningful relationships amongst peers, the school counseling department assisted by Carlos Stewart, director of mission and inclusion, Karen Long, ECHO counselor, and Libby Harbaugh, Spanish teacher, department chair, and moderator of Students in Action, implemented the SOAR program.
The building blocks for the program were found no further than in the school’s time-tested mission and charism.
Developing Family Spirit
By the end of this year, students will have participated in approximately eight “SOAR days” scheduled throughout the year with their SOAR group. A SOAR group consists of a faculty or staff moderator and 15-20 students from varying grade levels. Student coming to the group from different stages in their high school journey encourages community between classes, provide leadership opportunities for upperclassmen, and opportunities for underclassmen to get to know and learn from their more seasoned high school peers.
People of Compassion, Empathy, and Respect
The topic for each session varies, but generally they encourage students to learn more about themselves and one another in order to teach empathy, compassion, and respect. This year’s topics have covered active listening, group dialogue, the power of play, the importance of our name and what we stand for, and how to prioritize what matters most.
“Community is made up of tough stuff, difficult conversations, and people who come from many different backgrounds with all kinds of different ways of thinking, but at the end of the day we are all Eagles,” said Jama Badinghaus, chair of the school counseling office.
“If we can provide opportunities for students to graduate with an appreciation and an understanding of how there is value in each person’s perspective then that positively affects who they will become in the world,” Badinghaus continued.
“They will be able to go out into the world and value voices different from theirs, build their own communities because they see value in that, and open their minds to understanding and continuously learning what it means to love and respect all people.”
The biggest goal for this program is making sure that students learn and understand how to treat and care for one another in this world so that they demonstrate with their actions as well as their words the goodness of God.