Can We Please Be Civilized?
Jenny McGovern, 6th Grade Dean

By Jenny McGovern, 6th Grade Dean

There’s some debate about whether or not cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once claimed that the earliest sign of civilization was a healed femur. In saying this, she was indicating the care, protection, and nurturing by others that would be necessary to heal what would otherwise be a life-ending injury.  In 6th Grade Social Studies, we’ve been learning about other markers historians have named of what makes a community a civilization, including a system of government, a stable food supply, and the arts.  As part of our studies, 6th grade students became explorers last week, participating in a virtual “excavation” of our Forest Ridge community to determine if we qualify as a civilization.

Working in teams, students watched video introductions of campus adults, moved to various locations on a campus map, solved puzzles, decoded passwords, and overcame technological hurdles to piece together their own understanding of our community. With 30 new students in our class, there is plenty to learn about Forest Ridge and Sacred Heart education, complicated by the fact that we are not on campus together.  Students explored the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart education, participated in a prayer service for the Feast of Mater Admirabilis, worked through a digital escape room to  demonstrate understanding of our technological tools, and identified seeds and the plants they become, many of which they have seen growing on visits to campus! Explorers also unscrambled job titles of campus adults to understand our social structure and translated book titles written in emojis to prove themselves experts at written language.  Soon, their teams will offer a performance to their class with evidence that the arts are alive and well at Forest Ridge. 

Most importantly, students spent the day with their team, working together to meet challenges, listen to each other’s ideas, practice patience, work from their strengths and encourage each other.  It is this collaboration that marks it as a Sacred Heart experience.  When I asked students what helped their teams be successful, they said, “We enjoy each other’s company,” and “We all get a chance to share.”

Listening with open minds, pushing forward with persistence, expressing kindness and compassion, this is what we ask Sacred Heart students to bring into the wider world to solve problems and face challenges. On the eve of our next election, we recognize that compassion, respect, generosity, and forgiveness are the best ways to create a civilized society. We can have the most stable food supply, the most advanced technology, the most flourishing arts scene, but unless we care for, protect and nourish our most vulnerable community members, we cannot call ourselves civilized. Our 6th Grade students recognize this and have good news for us. Forest Ridge- we are a civilization!