Grit key to success at local high school

This year, Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) turned to grit and connectedness as keys to student success.

This year, Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) turned to grit and connectedness as keys to student success.

School principal Scott Stewart gave a presentation on school connectedness at the SD51 (Boundary) regular school board meeting on June 10 in Grand Forks.

“We started out the year by looking at a few different things,” said Stewart. “The first thing we wanted to get at was the whole idea of connectedness—how students felt, whether they really felt there was a connection between them and adults.”

Stewart said they surveyed the students in September and asked if there were two or more adults that cared about them.

“So that’s where we started the year as far as getting engaged on where our student body was,” he said.

Stewart played a TED video from Angela Lee Duckworth, a university psychologist and motivational speaker, in which she spoke about grit being the key to success.

“We then came up with developing a set of measures for taking the idea of grit and combining that with the connectedness piece,” he said. “We spoke to our staff about the type of things they felt would lead to students having a sense of connectedness.”

Stewart said they developed and tried a new series of rubrics designed to assess and help foster improvements in grit.

“Our hope was to find a mechanism to help assess grit, and then use this data to inform future decisions,” he said.

On April 15, staff reviewed the data from September 2013 and discussed successes from the past year.

One of the initiatives was built around creating passion days for students. “The emphasis of these days was to participate in activities that students might not normally have a chance to experience at school,” said Stewart in the report. “The focus was to build around both teacher and student areas of interest. These Pick Your Passion (PYP) days have been very popular with both teachers and staff.”

GFSS also initiated house teams, but the idea faded out as teachers went to phase one job action, said Stewart.

The school plans to send out the rubric surveys again next September.

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