What is virtue? What is integrity?
As human beings, we all have flaws and weaknesses. Identifying and understanding this truth is part of growing up. Challenging oneself to do better, to be better is part of the Christian walk. As a Catholic high school, it is our responsibility to guide our students toward the Light of Christ and this means reconciling our flaws with forgiveness.
As part of Theology teacher Dave Couture’s final assessments, freshmen students were tasked with identifying a personal area ripe for improvement (i.e., a “vice”) and then were asked to seek a virtue that- if invoked and practiced- might counter that said vice and help them change a negative into a positive.
To listen to 14 year olds list their “vices” is humbling. “Anger, arrogance, lack of spontaneity, inattentiveness, fidgeting, cursing…” But to hear their determined attempts to overcome personal challenges by focusing on goodness and virtue is deeply rewarding.
“I struggle with anger,” admitted one student. “I get impatient and get mad quickly. So in order to try and fix this, I chose to spend Spring Break with my 90-year-old grandmother who has dementia. Spending time with my grandmother is hard for me because she can’t remember things and that makes me angry. So I put away my phone for the week and just spent time with her. We played card games like Crazy Eights, read books together, watched the NBA playoffs together. I loved spending time with her. This experiment helped me learn how to control my temper and my attitude just kept getting better each day I was with her. I still get angry but this project helped open my eyes on how to be kind. People with dementia are like babies, really. They’ve gone from being a baby to adulthood and now they’re a baby again. I just have to be kind.”
Enforcing and re-enforcing good behavior in children and adolescents isn’t easy. It’s a constant challenge that can feel overwhelming at times. At STA, however, it is a promised piece of our mission and a valued component of the partnership we share with our parents. In a world that appears to be increasingly laden with vice, it is our mandate to educate young people on virtue and hold them accountable for behavior that lacks it.
Vigilance to virtue is what leads us to say with authenticity… that we are a community of Saints.