Making Our Values Visible: Cougar Code At Hall Middle!

CougarCode_PosterV2-01Art/Yearbook teacher Jennifer Fry created a memorable image to capture our Cougar Code!

What are the values we aspire to as a community? We posed this question to our entire community last spring in anticipation of some seismic changes at Hall Middle – the departure of the 5th grade after eight years AND a massive renovation to indoor and outdoor spaces on campus. All organizations benefit from regularly revisiting their purpose and naming the shared values and commitments that make their work most successful. We wanted to harness all of the energy generated by these shifts to create a collective sense of mutual purpose and cohesion at “Hall 2.0!”

As our school forms part of a wider network of people and organizations that focus on supporting all students, we reached out to students, recent graduates, staff and parents to gather their ideas on this one question. From the initial conversations and collected post-its we created word clouds to show each group’s thinking:

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Current Hall student input.

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Recent alumni at Redwood High School.

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Hall staff.

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Our Lead Team – comprised of teachers, school counselor and administrative team – then took that raw material and started crafting more succinct ideas to represent the common themes from the different groups.


First draft of the Code at our Lead Team meeting in late spring 2015.

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First attempt at a Cougar Code visual – students gave us great feedback to improve it!

We began the 2015/16 school year with a key question: What are ways we can ensure that these values are living throughout the campus and don’t become forgotten words on a poster? Some of these approaches include:

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6th grade community gathering – teachers put on a skit to demonstrate the values in action (and NOT in action!).

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Technology teacher Bob Montes had his students create digital comics to illustrate the Code values.

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Norma cougar code

Ms. Shaner’s Advisory created a growth scale (from “Emerging” on the left to “Advanced” on the right) to make an intangible concept more concrete.

Ted cougar code

Mr. Stoeckley’s 6th grade Advisory did the same exercise together.

Our community is also multi-lingual; how can we make our values visible in a way that includes community members for whom English is not the primary language? Spanish teachers Ms. Shaner and Ms. Gascon collaborated on a translation of the Cougar Code and Ms. Fry delivered another wonderful rendition:

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How do we make these words live every day on our campus – and, by extension, out in the wider community? We will reconvene groups of staff, students and parents throughout the year (and beyond) to assess how well we are embodying the values to which we collectively aspire. It will be a team effort!

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