New Year, New Character Strong


The Character Strong program has made its return this school year, but it hasn’t been greeted with open arms by students. 

The district-wide social and emotional learning program was first implemented by the Lake Oswego School District in 2020 as an effort to build a more inclusive school environment. It is taught at LHS during the designated Pace Time period, a 40-minute class that takes place once a week every Wednesday. The program will be taught during three out of four Pace Times a month this year. 

“We wanted to make sure we still had that day where students could have some free choice,” said Principal Desiree Fisher. “That’s why we only decided to do it three times.”

Many students have responded negatively to the program, believing it is an unnecessary addition to the school day. Of 52 students surveyed, 86.5% responded that they do not like Character Strong so far this year. 

“I think it is a waste of time,” said sophomore Natalie Kay. “I’d rather have the 40 minutes to do my homework and get my grades up.” 

Despite this feedback from the student population, the administration has emphasized that the program will be taught differently this year instead of removing it. 

Teachers are more informed on how to engage students and personalize the program to their own teaching style. 

“We spent a lot of time with the teachers before school started with the people that developed the program,” said Fisher. “We did some pretty in-depth training with them on how to use it.”

A huge investment for the district, the curriculum is unlikely to be replaced but could continue to see changes in how it is administered. 

“I think that it would be better if it actually used methods and lessons that relate to the teens and people’s life instead of random community building,” said sophomore Campbell Brintnall. “It should be used more for emotional and mental health instead of just trying to get our classmates to like each other.”

While the program has had minor updates, the lessons have remained similar for the past few years. The LHS staff hopes to gain a more positive response from students through the new approach taken this year.

But that doesn’t mean that everything about Character Strong will stay the same. Teachers from Lakeridge will be meeting next Thursday to discuss possible changes that would further the improvement of the program. 

“We have come at it from a new angle, and I would really love it if everybody could just kind of lean into it a little bit,” said Fisher. “Give it a chance.”