Bullying is often reported in schools, but at HMS Richards Elementary School in Loveland, Colorado you would be more likely to hear a student complimenting another for showing Christ-centered living, or giving a shout-out for a student exemplifying respect or integrity. And instead of hurting others, the students focus on service.

Students are participating in a new program called Core Values. The seven values are Christ-centered living, responsibility, respect, integrity, courage, exploration and service.

In April the school hosted a Banner Ceremony—the public kickoff for the core values program. Teachers, students, parents, and supporters excitedly watched as seven beautiful banners picturing an HMS student and one of the values were hung in the school gym.

Each week the school focuses on one core value. During an all-school morning worship a teacher gives a devotional on that week’s value and then the students respond—sometimes apologizing for being late (shows disrespect), sometimes giving a shout-out for someone who has shown courage, sometimes expressing thanks for extra help. Teachers also give special recognition to students who have worked diligently on their studies.

The core values program is being test piloted by five schools in the Rocky Mountain Conference. A small committee worked for many weeks with conference educational director Lonnie Hetterle to develop the program and select the values.

Brittany McLachlan, grades 1-3 teacher at HMS Richards, has been spearheading the program. “These principles express our definitive purpose. They direct our interactions with each other, our students and their parents, and the members of our community,” McLachlan said. “Banners and posters around the school help to encourage the kids to hold these core values in their minds and hearts.” She explained that HMS Richards wants to support students in living these ideals every day and that students should be recognized for exhibiting behaviors that exemplify core values.

After the Banner Ceremony, parents received a letter outlining the core values and inviting them to commit to intentionally practice and model these values.

McLachlan’s husband, Matthew, has produced a video featuring some of the students in the five pilot schools and how these core values permeate the school day (view the video: http://bit.ly/rmc-core).

News writer Ardis Stenbakken is communication director for the Campion Academy Church.