When asked to define a hero, people may use words including strong, brave, super, big, powerful, saving, and invincible. When I asked the 7th graders the same thing, they responded with many of the same descriptions.
As they considered everyday heroes, however, their descriptions shifted and expanded a bit. This was evident as they researched, wrote about, and reported on heroes, many of whom were not well-known, as part of a project connected with the 9/11 anniversary,.
After an initial brainstorming session and reporting on the topic, 7th graders had the opportunity (along with the rest of the middle school) to hear from a community police officer as well as from one of our parents, Lieutenant Jason Kelley, who is a city of Grand Rapids firefighter. They learned more about 9/11, and also how it impacted our own city’s security, in preparation for heading down to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum for the 9/11 all-day flag salute.
The all-day flag salute is a tribute to all those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including a number of first responders and other ordinary heroes. After learning about and experiencing the flag salute together, we then asked ourselves how we as middle schoolers at West Side Christian School can be everyday heroes in our action and speech?
Taking this idea further, we looked at how being heroes can also reflect the example of Christ in loving and caring for those around us.
Students formed groups and began designing projects that all middle school students could see, hear, or experience to encourage all of us to act more heroically in our daily lives.
Creativity began flowing as students thought of ways to use our middle school to present their ideas. Some students decided to use the hallways for interactive projects, while others created banners and posters to present their thoughts, and still others used the intercom system in a public service announcement about heroism.
As students put the finishing touches on these projects, it was clear that heroism doesn’t just show up in one form.
There are many different types of heroes, from superheroes, to public service heroes in uniform who keep us safe, to heroes we meet everyday on the street.
Ultimately, we discovered that heroism is also within ourselves, and we have the power to follow in Christ’s example and change lives every day for the better.