Students find their ‘Sources of Strength’
On a recent Monday morning at LaRue County High School, as each student approached the main entrance, official greeters swung open the double doors and offered a cheerful “good morning.”
The day’s greeters, superintendent David Raleigh and Chris Price, the high school’s former assistant principal and current principal at Hodgenville Elementary School, earned smiles, nods and high fives.
The morning greeters — sometimes teachers or administrators, sometimes students — are one way the high school is promoting a greater sense of connectivity, a key tenant of Sources of Strength (SoS).
SoS is a wellness program that focuses on evidence-based prevention of suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse. Teams of peer leaders, mentored by trained faculty and staff, promote connection among students, work to change social norms so that students who need help will seek it, and encourage students to assess and develop their sources of strength.
While it can be called a suicide prevention program, sophomore Isaiah Pruitt, SoS peer leader, said he describes it as a social awareness program, something that is sure to benefit students.
“I feel led to help the student body as a whole,” Isaiah said. “Kids need someone to talk to, and kids need to know someone is there for them.”
Through SoS activities, such as a recent photo booth event, board games in the library, and more, students have new opportunities to connect and realize someone is paying attention.
“We’re trying to create a friendly environment, and I think this is the Gorilla Glue that’s going to hold it together and make it last longer,” SoS peer leader Stefani Giles, a junior, said.
The program focuses on eight sources from which students draw strength:
• Positive friends
• Healthy activities
• Medical access
• Mental health
• Family support
LaRue County Schools has started exploring new ways to address students’ mental well-being and was thankful to take advantage of state funding that covered SoS training for staff.
“Sources of Strength has been a great avenue for promoting a positive school culture and positive relationships,” said LCHS principal Denise Skaggs.
The high school is in its second year of SoS, with 60 peer leaders and 10 adults.
LaRue County Middle School has since started the program, too, training 26 peer leaders and six adults.
Activities at the middle school included decorating trees with ornaments listing students’ greatest sources of strength in December; student-created displays about gratitude in November; and service projects such as a food drive.
This month is Mentor March (named for one of the eight sources of strength) at the middle school, and students will highlight their mentors in various ways such as displays in the cafeteria and announcements.
March has been dubbed “Mindful March” at the high school and plans include an SoS Carnival where students will visit booths to explore each of the eight SoS components.
“Our purpose at the carnival is to educate students and help them see how each of the eight Sources of Strength apply to their lives,” Skaggs said.
For more information about Sources of Strength, contact Savannah Boone, email@example.com or Nikki Waldeck, firstname.lastname@example.org, at LCHS, or Kellie Sandidge, email@example.com, at LCMS.