We have two middle schoolers in our household. As most parents of this age group are aware, every single day there is huge drama about who is wearing what, which clothes are not washed or are missing from their fabulous wardrobe. We try to be compassionate, patient and understanding, knowing that middle school is a rough age. They aren’t making it up when they say that everyone will notice if their shoes don’t go perfectly with an outfit, or if their hair is tinted green over the summer from one too many swims in a neighbor’s overly chlorinated pool. Not that it’s happened here, but I’m just sayin… Middle schoolers are tough on each other. So, any outside help in raising them and helping them become their best selves is always appreciated.
This is why we are so grateful for the presence of Five Star at the middle school our children attend. Five stars is the rating motels and movies use as a symbol for excellence. Five Star, the community service organization that has been working in 13 middle schools in Michiana for the past five years, is dedicated to helping kids build their own Five Star Life. Each family has their own set of values they want to pass along to their children.
In our family, the five principles Five Star teaches (they spend four weeks on each one) are very important values we also teach at home: Respect, responsibility, integrity, sacrifice and courage. We were amazed when our daughter came home and started acting out what she learned at Five Star. She was more respectful, took more responsibility for herself, and we saw her trying to be more kind and patient with her sisters. We were in complete shock and awe at the transformation in her little life and attitude. We teach these principles at home, but when she had the opportunity to learn and discuss them with a coach who is a friend and fun mentor to her, she “got” it.
The values we were teaching at home were being reinforced by some very fun activities and cool people at Five Star (apparently way cooler than her parents). For us as parents, we are thankful for the reinforcement of our family values in a fun environment and in a school setting. Five Star is a not-for-profit organization that exists to build self-esteem and character into tweens –1300 kids a week. Students gather one day a week after an already long day of school to hang out, do homework, play fun games, have a discussion with their coach and have a crazy fun time while learning important life lessons and character-building skills.
Five Star has been at Grissom Middle School for five years. The school was searching for a character building program, so when Seth Maust came in the office, he sold them on this program. When the program first started, they were hoping 20 students would sign up. Now, they have to turn away 60 students a year because Five Star has become so large. Aside from a weekly afterschool meeting, Five Star students can also participate in day trips to Manowee Ranch, using ropes, horseback riding and other fun activities to push students past their comfort zone while in a safe environment. This helps them to learn to trust each other and depend on one another while building self-esteem and awareness.
If your child or a middle schooler you know has the opportunity, encourage them to be a part of Five Star at their school. As we learned, they are partnering with the values we already have in place here at home and are doing an amazing job encouraging kids and mentoring them. Who knows, your middle schooler might actually start helping around the house or being kind to his brother or sister. It happened here!