An in-depth course on building positive character values will join math, science and English on many Northern Kentucky middle schoolers' schedules this year.
Program director and former state senator Jack Westwood calls it Anti-Virus. But what's the illness it's fighting?
"You hear a lot about school shootings and suicides and drug problems we've got gong on," he said. "We just reached a conclusion this is a problem, and it's rampant, and we need to get it to stop. "
Westwood and other educators hope Anti-Virus can inspire students to do more than just understand -- they want them to act, working hard in their everyday lives to combat "anything that makes you sick or causes corruption, whether it's in your body or in society," program mentor Michelle Crook said.
The program equips them with seven "protection shields " with which to do that: Ambition, responsibility, hard work, emotions, restraint, common sense and generosity. By practicing these qualities in their thoughts as well as their actions, students can -- Crook and the rest hope -- become adults who approach the world with kindness, dedication and empathy.
A pilot program shows it can work, Crook said.
"I loved seeing the transformation from the beginning of the class time that I was there 'til the end, " she said. "They were saying, 'Hey, Mrs. Crook, we tried this at home and it worked.' Like, 'I'm getting along better with my mom or my brother,' or, 'I was nice to this kid in the cafeteria and let him sit with us, and it made me feel so good.'"
Sixth graders at Ludlow Independent Schools will go through the course during the 2018-'19 school year, as will some in Franklin County and Campbell County.