Many years ago Corbett Middle School had a few different awards that were given out each year at promotion. They consisted of things like leadership, service, inspiration and a couple others. Sometimes we would have years where more than one student really embodied one of these awards. The teachers struggled with who would get awarded. Many students who did achieve great things were not recognized. This was one of the reasons why the Cardinal 3 was born.
In our first year, Cardinal 3 requirements were only for our eighth graders. Then we expanded the requirements, with modified expectations, to our seventh graders and sixth graders. They too have basic requirements to help get them ready for the expectations for their eighth grade year.
Each fall every teacher goes over the guidelines for meeting the Cardinal 3 requirements for each of the grade levels. Many eighth graders have been thinking about their speech topic prior to even this time. Throughout the year, students offer up opportunities for service hours, teachers suggest ways of publishing and provide time for workshopping, and speaking opportunities are made available for each grade level requirement.
The other reason why we implemented Cardinal 3 was to add authenticity and deeper connections. Students get to give service in something they are passionate about. They get to have someone read their writing that isn’t required to (teachers, moms, dads, guardians:). They get to speak about something that is important to them or share a piece of writing that they have worked hard on. The process is what is most worthwhile.
If the student achieves all of the requirements, what do they get? Honor. We call them Cardinal 3 honors. As a sixth and seventh grader, students are preparing themselves towards making it as an eighth grader. As an eighth grader, you get a tiny pin, a star on a paper program, and a moment of recognition at promotion. That all lasts for a moment. However, the honor is something that is achieved and stays with each student that wants to earn it for the rest of their life.
Every year I ask my eighth graders about what they are most proud of achieving in middle school. What do many say? Cardinal 3, especially their eighth grade speech. I’ve never had a student say that they wish they didn’t do it after completing it. Also, I’ve only seen pride come out of publishing and from giving meaningful service.
With all of this, I need to remember that Cardinal 3 is something that I expect each of my students can achieve, but that they need to achieve it. We provide them with the framework, suggestions and even some opportunities but each student needs to follow through with their own Cardinal 3 and show us that they deserve this special recognition.