Strive to Be Great

The PCIS motto is "Strive to Be Great!" Students in all grade levels hear it from teachers and peers regularly, but what exactly does that mean?  It means that each of us tries to be better... to be a better worker, a better student, a better friend, a better person.

We developed the motto in our early years as a school when we wanted students to reflect inwardly on their individual level of effort in schoolwork and eventually in all aspects of their lives.  We wanted students to understand the difference between meeting minimum expectations and surpassing them. We wanted them to want to find their own unique ways to surpass expectations and to make it a habit to stretch themselves beyond average.  It has never been about academic abilities nor grades, but rather about effort.  It is about attacking a task, regardless of its size, with vigor.  It is about completing each task with enthusiasm to create a product that is cleaner, neater, more accurate, more extensive, more creative, more attractive, deeper, broader, better than the assignment.  It is not about external reward for those efforts, but about self recognition.  It does not create competition between students, but only motivates students to compete with themselves to be great.

The motto has given us a way to discuss with students what their personal best is and what it can become.  It gives us a name to call the effort we see in others and in ourselves.  It is a catalyst for valuing and implementing effort and taking pride in that.  It is when striving to be great that students find passions and talents they did not know they had.  It is in striving to be great that they overcome their weaknesses and build self esteem.  

I see students that have been at PCIS for several years that have made striving to be great a habit.  I see new students that never used to do any more than the minimum suddenly begin to try harder.  I see students that take "extra-credit assignments" as required.  I see students smile when I recognize them striving and beam when they discuss their own efforts. 

Last week, after discussing what it means to strive to be great, one student suggested that we change the motto to "Strive to Be Greater!" When I asked him to explain, he told me that greatness is not something we can reach and be finished, but something to which we can always aspire.  We cannot ever be greatest, only greater today than yesterday.

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