"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny." - Unknown
Greetings CV Parents and Community Members,
What is the purpose of education? I have focused for many years on this essential question and studied this intensely for decades. I have strong beliefs that the purpose of school is two-fold:
1. To prepare all students with a world-class education with a path to college and careers of the 21st century, so they can live meaningful lives and provide well for their future families with successful employment.
2. To prepare all students to be first-class citizens with strong character that enables them to be good people; caring, giving, helpful, and tolerant of others who are different than them.
This "world-class education" aspect can be easily measured by CVCHS' 99% college admissions rate, 65% of our students meeting the UC admissions requirements, and our very high ranking on the state proficiency rates in English and Mathematics (9 out of 10 on state ranking). We are reaching this vision and continue in our mission to provide a quality education for all.
But the other aspect of our mission is not easy to measure at all. Character. How do you measure whether your student has quality character? In this Voyage of the Eagle, I would like for us to take a look and examine ourselves. Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."
How can we prepare students to be "first-class citizens" with good character?
First and foremost - "More is caught than is taught." I have always believed this, and I knew my son was always watching me while he was growing up. I made a point to model ethics, character, honesty, tolerance, patience, giving and caring. I was fortunate to have received a strong foundation of character from my parents and additional adult role models in my life. Values that I learned while in church, clubs, Cub Scouts, sports, and from coaches were: teamwork, sacrifice, hard work, no cheating, honesty, telling the truth even when it results in negative consequences, giving to others in need, and delayed gratification. We are our children's first and foremost teachers and they learn by watching us.
Second, I believe in the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is a tenant taught by most religions of the world and is as true today as it was when Jesus taught it 2000 years ago. You cannot go wrong when you treat others the way you want to be treated.
Third, if there were no severe consequences to the enjoyment of too much alcohol or marijuana or opioids, I would probably not care. But the consequences are far too serious! I recently spoke with a local high-ranking police officer who said, "abuse of marijuana is out of control." Most marijuana possession cases in high school today involve edibles from unregulated local dispensaries. And pot today is 10 times stronger than the 1970's. The consequences of marijuana abuse can be psychosis, genetic defects in future children, drug dependency leading to extreme laziness and apathy, etc. The deaths from drunk driving and being high on various drugs is epidemic, with many of those that survive suffer brain damage, paralysis, etc. Teens who use marijuana risk developing serious mental health disorders, including addiction, depression, and psychosis. Marijuana is linked to reduced school performance and users are more likely to partake in other illegal drugs. Because a teenager's prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain which weighs outcomes, forms judgments and controls impulses - isn't fully developed yet, it is critical that adults provide strong, and frequent, messages to be drug free and live clean. Talk to your kids about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol to their developing minds and bodies.
So, what's the big deal? The big deal is the physiological and psychological impact that drugs and alcohol are having upon adults, teens, college kids, families, marriages and our society.
What's my message? If the whole world seems to give in and compromise their health, along with the damaging consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, don't you compromise your values... "Stand Up and Stand Strong!" Not your family and not your kids! That's my message. For those students and families in Clayton Valley Charter High School - let's raise healthy kids. Let's be drug free! Let's model character. Let's teach our students to abstain from marijuana, opioids, alcohol abuse and "live clean." They will enjoy better lives, live better lives, do better in college, do better on the job and have happier and healthier marriages and raise better children.
In closing, let me share with you from my heart: I really care deeply about the lives of our young people at CVCHS. And I believe our students have great character and are really good kids when compared to students from across the United States. The vast majority of our kids are caring, honest, loving, decent human beings! I rarely see or hear about intolerance from our kids. They are kind and reach out to the outcast or those different from them.
But as parents and educators, we must continue to have discussions with our students about making good choices. Our actions have consequences that can harm ourselves or others or bring good to ourselves or others. We must caution them about texting and social media abuse and addiction. We must prevent them from texting and driving, which may be riskier than drunk driving. We must counsel them against alcohol and drugs at parties and not succumb to the pressure to "follow the crowd to fit in." Let's love our kids enough to have these brave conversations. Together, as a community, let us model for our children good character... as "more is caught than is taught."
Wishing you and your family a safe and relaxing Spring Break!