What is Project Cornerstone?
Project Cornerstone, an initiative of the Silicon Valley YMCA, offers elementary school programs such as ABC (Asset Building Champions) and Los Dichos (where caring adults read stories about kindness and respect in the classrooms, engage students in discussions and teach empowerment skills and anti-bullying techniques). In addition, Project Cornerstone offers Expect Respect Workshops (for students) and Take it Personally Workshops (for adults). The 41 Developmental Assets (character traits) are listed here. Studies show that the more assets students have, the more successful they will be in life and will be less likely to take part in negative or at-risk behavior. Kids with 30 to 41 assets will thrive; while, kids with 1 to 10 assets will struggle.
Currently, many of our district’s elementary schools have Project Cornerstone. What’s exciting is that students from these feeder schools can incorporate many of the concepts and skills they’ve learned in elementary school into middle school. By having everyone understand Project Cornerstone’s common language, students can advocate for themselves when struggling and learn to communicate more effectively with their peers.
What Does Project Cornerstone Look Like at Graham?
Project Cornerstone looks different in middle school than in elementary school and varies at each middle school - depending mainly on the school’s size and climate on campus. The main goal (and Project Cornerstone’s mission) is to help kids feel valued, respected and known. Graham offers a variety of ways for students to feel important and included. Below is a list of some of the opportunities, programs and activities that have been offered on campus:
- At-Risk Support Team (includes intervention specialists and community liaisons)
- Clubs (after school) – bridge, chess, etc
- Donut Day in the Fall (Bags are decorated with "Have a sweet day" messages by the JBN club, filled with donut holes and delivered to each 1st period class, everyone’s included, sponsored by the PTA and Project Cornerstone parents)
- GMSTV (empowers youth by creating projects and broadcasting at school)
- PE Dept Dance Party and Dinner (food and dancing for the Graham community)
- Rallies (DJ, games, competitions between students and teachers – throughout year)
- *School-wide Service Projects (fall, winter, spring) - All students support local and global organizations (Graham has supported Books and Bears - focusing on children’s literacy, Hope's Corner - collecting new socks and decorating lunch bags for the homeless and Achungo Children’s Center - a school for orphans in Africa)
- Tamale-making Night (PTA and ELAC cooking together for staff appreciation lunch)
- Teachers opening up their classrooms at lunch (e.g. showing Disney movies, etc)
- The Lounge at Graham (open once a week at lunch & hosted by Project Cornerstone parents/caring adults) - provides a calm place for students to relax and connect
- JBN (Just Be Nice) Club (inspired by Project Cornerstone, students brainstorm ideas on ways to create a caring school climate)
- Tutoring (caring adults on campus)
* Service projects can build as many as 21 assets!
5 Ways YOU Can Build Assets
- Smile at middle schoolers. Say hello. Notice them.
- Be a positive role model by obeying traffic laws.
- Include your child in decisions at home.
- Know your child's friends.
- Learn the names of students on campus.