Character Counts

Wakefield's Virtues Program incorporates the character education central to Wakefield's mission into everyday school life. Throughout the year in the Lower School, the four cardinal virtues — prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude — are introduced and characteristics of each virtue are discussed in class on a regular basis to help students see the practical ways they can live these large ideals. Students are acknowledged in the community when they display these characteristics and virtues in their everyday behavior and decision-making, and are helped to see how practicing the cardinal virtues leads to a civil, friendly, supportive, and enjoyable community.

The Lower School’s Virtues Program, Character Counts, is led by our Lower School Counselor, Mrs. Arielle Hurst. Each month she focuses on a "characteristic" that embodies one of the four Cardinal Virtues.

Read more about the characteristics of each Virtue below.


Courtesy: The Pre-School and Junior Kindergarten listened to a short book called Following the Rules and then answered questions about rules they need to follow at school and at home. In Kindergarten through third grades, the students heard the story The Bernstein Bears Forget Their Manners. The younger children then drew pictures of what showing courtesy at home and in school looks like. Students in the third through fifth grades were challenged to see if they could identify the 17 Wakefield Courtesies. These are the rules of etiquette all students in all grades follow on a daily basis.

Responsibility: In the youngest grades, children identified ways they behave responsibly in school and at home. The students talked about the household chores they perform, the jobs they do at school, and different ways they take care of themselves. In the older grades, students explored what it means to be a responsible student, family member, and friend. They identified how and where many of these responsibilities cross over one another.


Self-Discipline: Students in our Early Childhood Center listened to Think Before You Act: Learning About Self-Discipline and Self-Control which illustrated that sometimes you have to work hard to do what you are supposed to do, even if it doesn’t match what you feel like doing, in order to get things done. The first through third grade students listened to and discussed the story Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst. After the story, students illustrated some of the difficult decisions they might need to make in order to show self-discipline to reach their goals. The fourth graders spent time talking about what self-discipline means to them. Through shared experiences all the students learned that hard work, determination, and an unending ability to keep at something can lead to your future dreams becoming realities.

Generosity: The Lower School spends much of December exploring, discussing, and taking part in what it truly means to be generous. Donation boxes can be found all over the hallways collecting food for food banks, Toys for Tots, and gently used clothing and toys for folks in need. But giving of material things is only one of the ways students learn to display their own ability to be generous. As the Character Counts Program continues, the children focus on the deeper meaning of generosity: namely, generosity of spirit. Each grade hears and interprets the story The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.


Respect: Students discuss the meaning of respect: to show regard or appreciation for, or the condition of being esteemed or honored. They then explored the importance of respect for self, others, property, and rules and regulations. Given the upcoming celebration of Earth Day, many of the students thought about the importance of respecting “Mother Earth."

Honesty: Children in all grades identified reasons why being known as an honest person is something for which they strive. In Kindergarten through second grades, the students played with the idea of honesty being the "solid foundation" for each and every day. We discussed how building one's character as an honest person leads to people trusting you, being able to rely on you and respecting you. This, in turn, allows one to develop deeper friendships and gain more responsibilities.


Commitment: We read I Wanna Iguana, about a boy named Alex and his plans to convince his mother he is ready to take care of an iguana in need of a home. Our students identified the different promises Alex made to his mother, and then explored what could get in the way of his commitments and how he could overcome these obstacles. We discussed how commitments are hard work and the best way to fulfill them is to only commit to things that are truly meaningful to you in some way.


Zoe Tron

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