Civility Starts in the Classroom

Curated By Erin Heiling


We build a stronger and more diverse community by actively sharing our ideas and opinions with others in thoughtful and considerate ways.  By practicing this basic commitment to civility, we learn and grow from one another – even in disagreement.”

This is the Oshkosh Civility Pledge, and the Communities program at Oshkosh North High School has truly taken those words to heart.  The Communities program collaborated with various community partners to create an opportunity for students to explore the nine civility principles:

• 1. Pay Attention – Be Aware of Others & Sensitive to the Immediate Context of Actions

• 2.  Listen Closely – Understand Other Points of View

• 3.  Be Inclusive – Welcome All; Don’t Exclude Anyone

• 4.  Don’t Gossip – Remind Others of the Importance of this Practice

• 5. Show Respect – Honor Others (Especially in Disagreement)

• 6. Be Agreeable – Find Opportunities to Agree

• 7. Apologize Sincerely – Repair Damaged Relationships

• 8. Give Constructive Comments, Suggestions & Feedback – No Personal Attacks (Focus on Issues)

• 9. Accept Responsibility – Don’t Shift Blame; Share Disagreements Publicly

In May, a representative from the Oshkosh Civility Project came to Oshkosh North High School and taught the Communities students about civility. Students studied and researched the nine civility principles and then applied them to personal experiences. The students also wrote poems about specific experiences in their lives where one of those principles played an important role.

As the project continued, students began to focus their group projects on civility in sports. Students went to UW-Oshkosh and listened to speakers discuss their experiences related to civility in sports. They then reflected in writing about a speech that had an impact on them. Students were next assigned to groups, to hold a public awareness project for Civility in Sports during the first week of June. Students were able to get their message into the community in a variety of ways including: being honored as the Charity of the Game at the June 4th Timber Rattler game, civility messages on business marquees, letters to the Northwestern, sign creation, social media posts and video, interviews on live by AM radio,  recorded radio commercials, and letters to various youth organizations.

Many excellent poems were submitted, but because of limited space, only three can be printed. The following pieces were written by students in Mr. Esslinger’s English Honors class:



By Christine Hamer

Every day I go to school,

Without a worry in my mind.

Every day they go to school,

And worry about the whispers from    behind.

Every person is different,

Even I am too.

I wish the world could see,

From their point of view.

In the beginning I didn’t understand,

What they deal with each and every day.

But my eyes continue to open,

With every word they say.

They are people,

Just like me and you.

I am truly amazed,

By all that they can do.

Why must we poke fun,

Of the weaknesses of some.

We are all different but equal;

And that is my rule of thumb.

I’m thankful for friendships I’ve made,

And the experiences I’ve had.

I want to spread the word,


And make civility the new fad.

By Molly Knoblock

Heat radiates from my face

Derived from the words that burn my ears

My belittled reflection is encircled by an aura of question and uncertainty

It deepens the bleak ache in my stomach

The bright lights expose every scar on the wood

Unlike the way they hid my shadow blanket

Like a specimen under a microscope

Exposed for all to see

By Amy Halliday

Blue ice pierce

Fierce words rip out of

Blood red lips

Like a frigid storm

Frozen crystals

Trail up frosted glass

Obscuring the view inside

What lies behind

Is distorted by

Sharp flurries of snow

Whipping past my face

Burning my resolve

To keep looking

Always look harder

There’s more to see

Pay attention

It’s not as it seems

Communities educator Richard Leib, in collaboration with Michael Esslinger and Jackie Schmidt, hope that through this project, students will aspire to practice the civility principles and skills “today and every day.” To learn more about Oshkosh Civility Project, visit ν

Erin Heiling studied art at Indiana University and stays involved through photography, design and writing.

CORRECTION: In the Scene’s June issue, poet Nathan Reid’s name was misspelled. We apologize for this error.


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