New district theme: Choose Courage


Image of science teacher, Matt Ricci. Photo courtesy of Angie Jameson.

As Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools resumed in-class instruction, the administration announced a new district theme the “Choose Courage” as well as a shared picture book for One District, One Book to inspire the community after unprecedented times. 

In an effort to bring the community together after enduring a global pandemic, administrators from all district buildings planned tirelessly over the summer to announce the theme. 

Mr. Nathan Bachofsky, who is the high school choir teacher and also sits on the high school teacher and district leadership committees for this theme.  

“I think just after the wild year we’ve had and everything that is going on in the world with coronavirus, even the political divide and just feeling the state of things, we wanted to promote a theme of connection through courage,” said Mr. Bachofsky. 

He furthered that by forming that district-wide connection, the theme can encourage students to try new things, meet new people, build new friendships, and overall reach outside their comfort zones. 

Mr. Bachofsky noticed the necessity to help students with courage even prior to the pandemic. 

“The theme is just about putting yourself out there and promoting a risk-taking culture. But I think a lot of us are afraid. Throughout the years, people are getting more and more afraid of taking risks and putting themselves out there.  I see it with my own students, you know, they’re afraid to try for a solo or a part in a show. And it’s like, what have you really got to lose?”

 This theme also comes paired with a One District, One Book program.  Dr. Rachel Jones, principal of T.C. Gurney Elementary School, wrote the grant to get the book “Courage” by Bernard Waber and is responsible for its distribution in the district.  According to Mrs. Amy Jameson, this novel is the first picture book in the entire nation to be used for the One District, One Book program.  Mrs. Jameson is the high school and middle school librarian who also sits on the high school teacher and district leadership committees with Mr. Bachofsky.  She explains the behind-the-scenes work needed to be done for the execution of this project. 

“I think we just took inspiration from each other.  So we met on zoom every three or four weeks over the summer.  Our conversation started like, if you have a child at every single building, we want them to come home, sit at the kitchen table on the first day of school and have something similar to share,” said Ms. Jameson. 

Throughout the year, different themes are going to be released monthly with different inspirational messages for the community.  

“Those were decisions we had to make behind the scenes.  Also with the themes we wanted to make sure that themes tied to natural things like holidays.  So, just sitting together, throwing ideas back and forth, and the book was our main inspiration.  We wanted to make sure that you’re in a space to feel connected every day,” stated Mrs. Jameson. 

Mr. Bachofsky and Mrs. Jameson are responsible for the high school’s distribution of the themes but invite all high school students to join the student planning committee if they’re interested in inspiring their own circles. 

“We want students to be involved in any capacity in which they can.  We want to foster opportunities for students to be leaders.  We don’t just want, you know, the student council or link-crew.  Any student who feels inspired by this can join our courage committee of students and plan school-wide activities to be the voice of courage in the high school,” Mrs. Jameson expanded. 

With the future themes to be announced, the leadership committee as well as the courage committee for students invites the community to connect, step out of their own comfort zones, and push themselves.

“We aim not only to connect our district as a whole, but our community as a whole.  So we want to include families.  We wanted to include businesses around the Chagrin community.  We want to bring everybody together through a book, a picture book,” Mrs. Jameson said.