Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
When visitors to the West Orange–Stark Middle School campus walk through the main corridor which links the new office area to the Stark Building, they are stopping in their tracks to view the documents and photographs on the wall.
The information is unusual. It is not art work, reports, and meeting information. The wall of this middle school main walkway is covered with contracts — the signatures and photographs of students who have pledged to be brilliant. The “Pledge to Brilliance” concept originated with Superintendent James Colbert.
“Although we have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort ensuring that our students are successful in the classroom and on state tests, West Orange–Cove acknowledges the value of developing the whole student and increasing the student’s self-worth. We have a responsibility to our society to produce productive citizens. This initiative is one that speaks to getting back to developing the whole child by increasing one’s self-worth and self-image,” Colbert said.
The “Pledge to Brilliance” project was introduced to the students of West Orange – Stark Middle and High School during the fall semester. Principals held a series of meetings with their student bodies to share the “Pledge to Brilliance” contract. They pointed out it can be a tool for students to utilize in setting and reaching academic and personal goals.
Participation is not required. Principals stress the oath has to be voluntary. The Pledge to Brilliance reads:
“As a student at West Orange – Stark High/Middle School, I commit to pursue a “Pledge to Brilliance.” I will strive in all ways to achieve excellence and distinction in all that I do. I aspire to build my talent(s) and my intellect; furthermore, dedicating myself to my education and my future.”
• I pledge that I will display the Genius within me at all times.
• I pledge that I will value all information presented to me.
• I profess that I will go beyond “Smart” and succeed in “Brilliance.”
• I vow that I will represent my school, family, and most importantly, myself to my maximum potential at all times.
• I will never tolerate a score of “0” in any subject area.
• I will prepare myself in the best manner possible for any academic challenge or endeavor.
• I will give 112%.
• I vow that I will honor this “Pledge to Brilliance” as a West Orange–Stark High /Middle School Mustang/Stallion.
Students who take the oath sign the contract with their campus principal and are photographed individually. The contracts are then displayed.
More than 500 students at West Orange–Stark Middle School and High School have taken the pledge.
“I think that it is an amazing thing to see our students step up to the plate and take on this challenge,” said Hutcherson Hill, principal of West Orange-Stark High School. “They do not shy away from it, even after reading its specific goals. We have plenty of students who like the validation of pursuing brilliance with their own unique brand of talents.”
Once students take the pledge, they receive a “Pledge to Brilliance” lanyard for their student identification badges. At pledge celebrations, students also receive bracelets with motivational phrases.
“The program has fostered another avenue for teachers to praise and support all students, as well as provide a bridge for all students to poise the simple question to all they encounter: ‘Can You See the Genius in Me?’ Indeed, we can,” added Anthony Moten, principal of West Orange-Stark Middle School.