New Program “Character Strong” put into advisory period.


Oliver Capito, Editor

In order to help students ease into the new year, Katy ISD has implemented a program called Character Strong. This character building system uses research backed system to help its users improve in 5 areas: values, goals, leadership, emotional understanding, and compassion.

“The great thing about the whole system is you have options,” Mr. Cross said. “[We went] through the lessons [and] put together [on a] Google doc of some of our favorite ones that we think will impact you guys.”

Principal James Cross had been interested in implementing a character education program for a few years. He wanted to find a program that would give a way for students to connect with one another.

“I saw a presentation in Austin at a principal’s conference,” principal James Cross said. “We were looking at the cost of use. It was…expensive, and we were trying to figure out how [we would be] able to [afford] that and right about the time that happened our district said ‘hold [on], I think we’re going to incorporate character strong district-wide.’ So it worked out really well because we [didn’t] have to pay for it. The district paid for it.”

However, Character Strong wasn’t the only option on the table. Other programs were considered. 

There was another program out there too and we had seen the presentation with them as well,” Mr. Cross said. “It was [a] very similar program [to] character strong…They had developed curriculum and lessons and everything. But when we look[ed] at it overall we just felt like Character Strong had invested more resources into their stuff…The CEO John Norlin just seems like a passionate guy…trying to help young people.” 

Through the 30 minute lessons, Character Strong allows students to talk about light and fun or deep and emotional things, depending on the goal for the session. This way, students could interact with each other without it feeling like a chore.

“We [are] looking at [character strong] as a way for kids to connect with one another and for teachers [to] connect with kids,” Mr. Cross said. “[We also want you to] build empathy with people. If you and I don’t know each other it’s really easy for one of us to look at the other one and make judgments about [each other, but if] we got to sit down and talk…it’s harder for me to be judgmental of you or you to be judgmental of me.”

To some, interacting with others may have been harder than it was before due to a long quarantine. Because of that, Mr. Cross wants to use Character Strong to help students reconnect with each other.

“That’s my goal this year,” Mr. Cross. “[I want to] start that process of getting back to being Cinco again...I’m not going to tell you that Character Strong [is] a magic fix for everything. It’s not. It’s just one thing that [we] will try to use to help us reconnect again.”

Before Character Strong, students would participate in the Cougar Challenge, another character building activity homemade at Cinco. However, this was taken away due to COVID-19.

“We [would] get 125 or so kids together and about 25-30 teachers,” Mr. Cross said. “And for half a day we go down to the gym, we [have] lunch together, and then we have a whole afternoon of team building activities, get-to-know you things, with the idea…of helping us challenge one another to be the best versions of ourselves.”

Many people are reluctant to try out this new program. For whatever reason they may have, Mr. Cross wants them to give it a try.

“Hang in there for a while,” Mr. Cross said. “You never know when that person you’re visiting with in class [and] find out that you have something in common…[you don’t have to] become best friends for life, but it also may mean that it strikes up a conversation.”