EarlyAct FirstNight Program
Houston, Texas: As students look up from bended knee, Sir James Lehman towers over them with his broad sword towering seven feet above. Dressed in thirteenth century ceremonial armor, he slowly lowers the sword, gently taping their shoulder. Once again, he raises the sword as he gently taps the opposite should while reciting the ceremonial chant, “I dub thee, knight, champion, and member of the gallery.” At the conclusion of these words and ceremonial ritual, chosen students are officially knighted in front an audience of their peers as anxious family members wait in the wings ready to greet and congratulate their new “knight” on a job well done - truly a moving experience for any grade school student and something that is difficult to attain.
The EarlyAct FirstKnight Program (EAFK) is currently being successfully implemented at Cloverleaf Elementary School and North Shore Elementary School. EAFK is a groundbreaking character education program for elementary and middle schools from Knights of the Guild. Sponsored by The North Shore Rotary Club, EAFK motivates and teaches children of all backgrounds to become civil, service-oriented individuals during their most formative years.
“With the EarlyAct FirstKnight Program, I noticed that our students are displaying more signs of integrity and building character traits that will not only make our community better, but make our school better at the same time,” said Mr. Lee Brown Principal of Cloverleaf Elementary School and North Shore Rotary member.
Approximately every six weeks, students gather for an exciting assembly in the school’s gym for the official knighting ceremony while proud parents and excited family members secretly assembled off stage.
The nominating teacher of the soon-to-be knighted student reads a prepared accolade which demonstrates the recipient’s worthiness for nomination in a particular area of virtue that is being celebrated. There are ten virtues taught during the course of the year long program: Tolerance, Responsibility, Confidence, Perseverance, Discipline, Respect, Honesty, Compassion, Friendliness, and Service. Next, a tabard is placed over the shoulders of the recipient just before ascending to the stage where they are given a medallion marked with the particular discipline being celebrated that day. Once this is completed, the student is officially knighted while being recognized for his/her accomplishment in front of a gym full of silent peers, all hoping to be chosen next.
“I’ve been with the program for about eight years and the one thing I truly love about the program is to see the interaction between the faculty, the parents, and the kids. Some kids aren’t always the best athletes and won’t get an award for that or have the scholastic ability to make the honor roll, but they exemplify really good character and that’s something that this program emphasizes,” said Sir James Lehman.
“This program means a great deal in character development by setting a foundation for proper behavior and future academic success. For us at the college, it means that these students come to us prepared to deal with the rigor, the academics, and the expectations that we have at the college level and that translate to degrees and completion, which is our ultimate goal at San Jacinto College,” said Shawn Silman, Dean, Liberal Arts San Jacinto College North.
"Teachers and students have really embraced this program, and it’s a great program that acknowledges students for the things they are doing. This gives the students an opportunity to grow personally, emotionally, and to give back to their community. Early Act has a service project that kids participate in and this last year our school raised $4,000.00 for one of our students who had Leukemia,” said Esmeralda Perez, Principal, North Shore Elementary School.
The knighting ceremony is not exclusive to only students, last month North Shore Elementary knighted one of its teachers, Ms. Amanda Ramirez. Ramirez and her 5th grade team of girls and their robot, “Professor Skittles”, placed 5th out of 120 teams in the “Freeform Division” at the University of Houston Mars Rover Contest.
Why stop with teachers? During the March Galena Park ISD School Board Meeting, both principals, Lee Brown and Esmeralda Perez, were surprised as they were honored by a knighting ceremony in front of the GPISD Board of Trustees. Terri Moore, Senior Director for School Administration and Staff Development, read an accolade of “Compassion” to the school board members citing both principals with their relentless conviction of putting those they serve above themselves. Sir James and his sword gently touched the hearts of all who were in attendance as his words, “I dub thee, knight, champion, and member of the gallery,” lifted two of Galena Park ISD’s most deserving principals into knighthood.
Pictured: Principal, Cloverleaf Elementary; Lee Brown
Pictured: Principal, Cloverleaf Elementary; Lee Brown, and James Lehman
Pictured: Principal, North Shore Elementary School; Esmeralda Perez, James Lehman and Rotary Club of North Shore; Mr. Matt Davis
Crystal Murray | Assistant Superintendent for Communication Services | firstname.lastname@example.org | 832.386.1063