What does it mean to have courage? Where do you obtain it and how do you use it? To the IMS community, “courage” is not just a word, it is woven into the moral fabric of our school. It isn’t a coincidence that our mission is to inspire in each member of our community “the courage to climb, the joy to create, the passion to learn, and the spirit to contribute in kind and meaningful ways.” But what does courage mean to the individuals who make up this diverse and spirited school and how can one person’s courage inspire those who follow?

During Morning Meeting on the Upper Campus, Mrs. Soja talked about civil rights activists including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Claudette Colvin, who, at the young age of 15 refused to give up her seat on a bus several months before the Montgomery bus boycott following Rosa Parks’ arrest. The community also learned about Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan. Elizabeth was among the nine black students who had been selected to enter Little Rock Central High School after desegregation and Hazel’s hate was captured in one of the most famous photographs from the civil rights movement. Years later Hazel apologized for her intolerance. Mrs. Soja chose this story to highlight the bravery of the nine high school students, but also the courage it took years later for Hazel to admit she made a mistake and try to make amends. Students also watched clips of two sermons; “If vs. Though Faith” and “Mountaintop,” Dr. King’s inspiring final public speech, which he delivered to a crowded church in Memphis, Tennessee a day before his assassination.

Mrs. Soja then asked students to reflect on their own inspiration for strength and courage and to think about how they might impact those around them. They were instructed to fill out cards with prompts that read, “I have courage to,” and
“I find strength in.”

In the words of our students:

I have the courage to:

  • Take risks for the right things
  • Stand up and fight for LGBTQ acceptance and rights
  • Try new things and risk-take
  • Help others who are less fortunate than I am
  • Ask for help when I need it
  • Stand up for what I believe in and make change in places where it’s needed
  • Apologize for mistakes I made in the past
  • Try harder
  • Follow my dreams
  • To inspire others to go beyond their limits
  • Fight for the things that will help us build something better, and for the justice people deserve

I find strength in:

  • The actors who wore black at the Golden Globes and for the “Why We Wear Black” movement
  • People who take a stand and go beyond the status quo
  • Music, specifically hip hop, rap, and R&B. People singing and rhyming about things they see and how they channel it inspires me.
  • My parents giving me pep talks
  • My opinions, decisions, and what I believe in
  • Faith and prayer
  • Nature
  • Knowing that change is happening. It’s happening slowly, but it’s happening.
  • People who have hope to make a better tomorrow

We also acknowledged the importance of our motto, life through service, which has guided the school since its founding days. Our commitment to service is deeply embedded in the school’s culture and curriculum, and takes on an increased meaning today as we seek to honor those who have fought for equality, social and economic justice, and peace.