Sand Creek Middle School’s character recognition program, initiated in 2022, has become a cornerstone of fostering positive character traits within the student body. Aligned with the school’s social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, Second Step– the school hosts monthly celebrations highlighting various traits such as bravery, kindness, gratitude, integrity, empathy, perseverance, poise, humility and teamwork.
The objective of the program is to inspire students to embody these virtues and be “caught” in the act of doing good, recognizing that seemingly small gestures contribute significantly to maintaining Sand Creek as a great place to learn. The Sand Creek character recognition committee, consisting of dedicated staff members, creates monthly videos to promote that month’s character trait among the Sand Creek school community. In these videos, students and staff share personal reflections on the chosen trait, emphasizing its significance in everyday life.
Recognized students not only receive a certificate of achievement, but also have their names and pictures shared with the wider community. The culmination of this acknowledgment is the monthly character recognition night, where nominated students come together to celebrate their achievements.
Associate Principal James Vardaro emphasizes the broader perspective “As a building, we consider it crucial not only to celebrate these traits, but also to actively seek opportunities to acknowledge the everyday actions of our students,” he said. “It is through these consistent efforts that we cultivate an environment where learning thrives and our students become thoughtful and engaged members of the community. This commitment to character development contributes significantly to the school’s mission of creating an environment that encourages positive values and behaviors among its students.”
The character recognition program at Sand Creek serves as one illustration of character building within the South Colonie school community. Social-emotional learning holds a high priority for the district and the implementation of the Second Step curriculum is implemented for all students grades K-6, with plans to expand next school year.