A new program for a better future


Students line up to shake hands with Lisa Boge before entering the school. Shaking hands is one of the most practiced policies from Capturing Kids’ Hearts.

Taryn Kauffman, Staff Writer

The school district has adopted a new program in hopes of building better relationships with students in grades 8-12.  Capturing Kids Hearts or CKH, is a program that started to take off in early 2006. Its main focus is building a better future for students. This may be the first time students and teachers at Johnston have seen anything like this, but Capturing Kids Hearts’ policies will continue to be implemented.

Capturing Kids Hearts is a program that has been around for many years earning appreciation from schools all across the United States. The main technique used is the “EXCEL” method. Engage, “x-plore”, communicate, empower, and launch are the main principles of the EXCEL method. Students at Johnston are most aware of the engage and communication aspects, due to the handshaking and the abundance of social contracts.

Last year the mental health committee of Johnston had found CKH while looking for programs available to help the wellbeing of students. Chris Wilson, a faculty member and grief counselor, was able to experience the program last year and get a feel for the guidelines.

“During that training we were able to meet students from other school districts that had been involved in the program, or their school had the student class component of the program available,” Wilson said. “So my initial thought was ‘This is something I want for our school, our students and for our community’”

Before the 17-18 school year began teachers got to experience the two day training for CKH.

“It’s a mentality pivot,” Sara Howe, a certified educator, said. “Sometimes kids don’t necessarily come first, and so Capturing Kids Hearts or something like it lets teachers remember one: why they became a teacher, and two: what the most important part of the school is.”

Howe also believes that the building relationships with students is vital.

“We needed to continue to do professional development around building relationships with the kids so they care about curriculum and they care about the school,” she said.

Although there are tremendous amounts of administrators raving about how amazing CKH is, not everyone at Johnston is as thrilled about the new program. Some students find the handshaking to feel fake and annoying, and the social contracts to be excessive and a waste of time.

“I’m sick of it,” Rachel VanDenover ‘20 said. “It’s been three weeks and I’m sick of the handshaking.” 

Students also point out how some of the methods being used won’t be as effective as the school hopes.

“I think its dumb,” Dylan Ritter ’18 said. “I think it’s dumb because it’s not going to work. If you want to form a personal relationship you have to form a relationship, there’re no shortcuts like shaking hands.”