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Live Courageously!

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

Roycemore’s mission includes inspiring students to “live courageously.” Indeed, to reach our highest and best potential we must demonstrate courage and overcome fear.  It is very human to feel a sense of trepidation in a variety of situations such as when trying something new, when there is uncertainty, when there is a concern about being judged, failing at something you try, being alone, or even simply about change in general.  When a school environment, however, is structured to try to help young people gain the skills to overcome these common fears, students can be on their way to living courageously.

In her book, “The Courage Habit,” Kate Swoboda identifies four key aspects to building a habit of courage.  The first is to practice mindfulness, connecting with the body to recognize when one senses fear and to acknowledge it rather than ignore it.  Cultivating the mind-body connection is not only helpful for creating a habit of courage, but it also provides a strong foundation to be able to focus and center oneself.  It is why Roycemore has embraced mindfulness practice with students school-wide.  The second courage habit is to listen without attachment rather than trying to ignore one’s internal critic.  The third courage habit is to reframe limiting stories one tells about oneself.  The fourth courage habit is to create community by sharing your thoughts with others.  This helps reinforce a regular practice of courage.  Through intentional experiences custom crafted for students by their teachers, and sometimes by students themselves, students gain many skills, but they also gain courage at the same time.

Sometimes courage is about taking on a societal challenge and creating space to openly discuss the challenge.  This was the case this past week when Roycemore Upper School members of the Teen Empowerment Club conceived and launched the first ever Mental Health Con at Roycemore.  This mini-conference included guest speakers from the Isa Kranz Foundation and a mental health expo that included information tables on a variety of mental health topics from therapy dogs, to domestic abuse, to stigma related to mental illness, to coping mechanisms.  The information booths were developed by members of the Teen Empowerment Club (run through Erika’s Lighthouse).  Kudos to Ms. Hilda and Ms. Erin who serve as advisors for the students who include Alexander R., Robin Y., Jaxsen F., Isabella G., Nico I., Ronan M., Alexandra M., Myron N., Mollie P., Molly D., Ryyan R., Tomas P., and Theo H.  The Isa Kranz Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also offered information tables.  With the challenges that both the pandemic and teenage life have on students’ everyday experiences, the conference offered both Middle and Upper School students an opportunity to learn more about mental health and to reduce stigma around mental health challenges to recognize that they can be as common as other health challenges, and how to get help when needed.

We are so proud of our students for leaning into what might have otherwise been a difficult topic and demonstrating our school’s core values of compassion and community.  Our students are truly living courageously!

In partnership for the education of your student,
Adrianne Finley Odell
Head of School