From the photos posted on Indian Hill School District and Indian Hill Middle School social media – it looked like outstanding fun! And while the annual #BraveUp Day is designed for high-spirited team building, the learning is also centered on serious social/emotional student well-being and growth. We wanted to learn more about what makes this day so special, so we sat down with Indian Hill Middle School Principal Jennifer Ulland for a Q&A.
Indian Hill School District (IHSD): What is BraveUp Day, and why was it established at Indian Hill Middle School?
Jennifer Ulland (JU): BraveUp Day is a day specifically designed for our seventh-grade students. It’s a day where they learn about the importance of relationships, communication, and kindness. Our theme ties in with our building pillars of Pride, Leadership, and Excellence. This is a powerful opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and their classmates, as well as what it means to be a Brave. The day has been planned by our IHMS teachers, counselors, and administrators, and is specifically geared toward our students and community.
Students start the day with some whole-grade activities. Next, they get into teams and have some team building and “get-to-know-you” activities. Groups attend four different sessions and have time to reflect about each one. The sessions themes include: Mindfulness, Courageous Conversations, Kindness & Your Words Matter, and Growth Mindset.
The students divide into two groups – male and female – and talk about what it means to be a Brave Man and a Brave Woman in today’s society. We specifically address teen pressures, wellness, and social media.
IHSD: Other Braves from different buildings are involved in the learning for this special day; who helps to mentor the seventh-grade students, and how are they selected?
JU: We have several people who volunteer to help out on this day because it is so impactful! We also ask administrators, teachers, and counselors to participate, as students are able to make a connection with them. Student-leaders from Indian Hill High School are also paired with adults to mentor our students.
IHSD: Presenters are also a part of BraveUp Day learning – can you tell us who presented and the subjects they addressed?
JU: Nick Jackson was our emcee and leader of the Kindness/Words Matter session. He will be back to do a follow-up with seventh graders as well as eighth graders, and that is per student request. Jim Nichols, Donita Jackson, and Dr. Mark Ault presented Courageous Conversations. Monica Dawkins presented Growth Mindset. Amy Kreider spoke about yoga and other self-relaxing techniques as part of Mindfulness. Lateef Johnson joined me in closing out the day.
IHSD: What do you hope your students will leave BraveUp Day with?
JU: We want students to be Brave enough to love themselves and others; by this we want them to be intentional and reflective in their words and actions that they use within their friend groups, peers, and all those around them. This includes posts, comments, and pictures on social media and texts.
IHSD: What do you want parents/guardians to know about the significance of this learning?
JU: Middle school is such a pivotal time in a child’s life. They are finding the balance in how to fit in along with how to stay true to their beliefs. We also want them to know that their words matter – whether its spoken or written – it can be impactful in both positive or negative manners. Therefore, be mindful of what you do and say, be kind, and be BRAVE!
Photo caption: During October, Indian Hill Middle School hosted the annual #BraveUp Day.