Several years ago, we began hearing more and more about bullying behavior at schools across the country and in social media. At Westminster Academy, we all agreed that kindness was something we encouraged across the curriculum, but we realized that perhaps we could be more intentional about defining that for our students. Maybe with our character training already serving as a backdrop, we needed to go a step further than simply trying to avoid bullying behaviors. There is more to loving our neighbors than simply not hurting them.
As a result, the “Defender Code” was introduced in the Grammar School, to highlight a virtue each month that we hope, God helping us, to grow in our students. We ponder love, self-control, humility, gratitude, wisdom, faith, faithfulness, justice, and courage. In classroom discussions and devotions, we consider how each virtue looks when we practice it toward God, toward earthly authorities, toward each other and the property of others, and toward our work, asking how our hearts are engaged with each of these touch points.
With the Defender Code in place, we still felt we wanted some way to drive home the idea of actively loving each other, of building a culture of mutual respect, based on Biblical principles and the example of Christ. The kindness assembly took shape as an annual opportunity to remind students of these aspects of who we are as a school community, and of who Believers are called to be daily as they follow Christ. It has varied over the years, but typically, we strive to present a new perspective on treating each other the way we want to be treated.
This year’s kindness assembly featured a student trying to practice the virtues set forth in the Defender Code, having terribly misunderstood the meaning of each virtue. In the end, the student finds it all comes down to humility. If we know we owe everything we are, everything we can do, and everything we have to our loving, merciful God, it causes us to desire to be more like Him, including being merciful and kind to others.