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Courage retreat inspires culture of belonging and respect

Students participate in courage retreat(11/06/2023) Seventh-grade students at Northdale Middle School (NMS) participated in a student retreat focused on courage in late October - which was led by Youth Frontiers, an organization with a mission to provide experiences that inspire character and respect. 

The “Courage Retreat” is a day-long event that encourages students to do the right thing and make responsible decisions that make a healthy difference for themselves, their peers and their school with the goal of making the school a better place. The retreat includes presentations, high-energy activities in the gym as a large group, small group opportunities to share stories and follow-up materials to extend the retreat’s impact.

Becky Brodeur, associate superintendent of middle schools and student services, said that the courage retreat has been a strategy used the past few years at middle schools to support the social-emotional and behavioral needs of students with the goal of improving culture and respect in school communities. Roosevelt Middle School plans to host the courage retreat in January 2024, while other middle schools hosted the retreats and began rolling out Character Strong, a new social-emotional learning program, last school year.

“We continually refer to the idea of standing up for others, and building each up throughout the school year,” explained Jeff Leach, NMS principal. “So we like to remind them of this [Youth Frontiers] experience, and the importance of working as a community.”    

Anoka-Hennepin has had a long-standing relationship with YouthFrontiers, coordinating a variety of staff and student retreats across the district. Andover High School hosted three staff retreats through Youth Frontiers when Brodeur served as principal there. “It was so impactful,” Brodeur said. “People feel more connected to their purpose and to each other - with renewed hope for education.”

View photos from Northdale Middle School’s Courage Retreat.
Learn more about Youth Frontiers.