School Pride Gives Sense Of Belonging

John W. Arceneaux, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  7/20/2007 12:45:55 AM

2007 Back-to-School News (Distributed 07/12/07)

School pride is often equated with athletics and team support, but it means much more to a youth. School pride involves a sense of belonging, of being part of something that is bigger than the individual and through which one finds value and identity.

"The need to belong, to be approved of, is one of the most powerful human needs and, when met, in a positive manner can enable a youth to achieve his potential," said LSU AgCenter 4-H and character education expert John Arceneaux.

The importance of belonging is a critical component of doing well in life, the feeling that one is a valued member of a social group, has been documented for many years in research studies.

One important piece of evidence comes from ongoing University of Minnesota research of a representative sample of adolescents across the nation. The study found that, along with positive relationships with one’s family, a sense of connectedness to school is the most significant protective factor for every problem behavior examined, including alcohol and drug abuse, violence and delinquency and early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy.

"High quality character development programs provide an opportunity to create a school climate that enhances belonging and academic achievement," Arceneaux said.

In the fall 2003 issue of the Journal of Research in Character Education, Jack Benninga and colleagues reported on the relationship between academic performance and implementation of high quality character education. They found that at every developmental level – elementary, middle and high school – students who experienced quality character education outperformed comparison groups on measures of social behavior and academic learning.

The Louisiana 4-H program is one of the leaders in the country in character education. Louisiana 4-H provides character development materials and training for school staff and communities in all 64 parishes.

Character education materials and services are available to school personnel, parents and concerned citizens from the LSU AgCenter at www.lsuagcenter.com. Click on the 4-H clover and look for the Character Education section.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: Louisiana 4-H Web site: http://www.louisiana4h.org
Contact: John Arceneaux (225) 578-2196, or JArceneaux@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939, or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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