The Class of 2023 Explores the Idea of Becoming

By Charles Debelak

Birchwood’s academic program is one of the best in Northeast Ohio. Yet academics take a back seat to our primary boast – character development. In this program, we teach and train students to forge a flourishing life, reaching goals for personal development and building a life which cares for and serves others. 

Among our many efforts toward these ends, the Ben Franklin Initiative is the capstone. In this effort during students’ eighth grade year, we deepen our understanding of the Aristotelian virtues and study the lives of great men and women through award-winning films. Together we engage with the reasoning and moral integrity of exemplary people, both famous and common. We have found that the lives of “great” people provide models to inspire and challenge.

At the end of the year, I ask each student to write a brief essay which summarizes the lessons they have learned through this program. I also ask them to offer advice to the younger students at Birchwood about how to become a “great” person. We call these "Legacy Essays." 

Please click here to read the complete 16 Legacy Essays written by each member of Birchwood’s class of 2023.