I have often mentioned how visiting over 1,000 schools has helped me to develop our Student Ownership M.A.P., which is a time-tested theory that school culture can be easily built through your message, your activities, and your people. So I want to take a few moments to show you behind the scenes of one school that I work with on a regular basis.

Granite Bay High School, located in Northern California, has a track record of academic success and a competitive culture. Yet their success does not leave them without potential problems. On a high performing campus, students can become disconnected as they strive vigorously to achieve their goals and best their peers.

Enter Tamara Givens, a long time client of TEEN TRUTH and a veteran Activity Director who understands the power of the Student Ownership M.A.P. She rolls with a large posse of leadership students and a deep passion for driving school culture. I recently attended a session that she presented at the 2017 CADA Conference and asked her if I could pass on a few nuggets of how strong messaging has nurtured a culture of connection at Granite Bay.

Her secret? Tamara and her student leadership team work over the summer to build out a “theme” for the upcoming school year. This theme consists of a slogan, a symbol, t-shirts, posters, and specific activities that drive home the greater message of each year’s theme. Her school has fully supported this effort by making sure that both students and staff use the theme in various aspects of campus culture and classroom instruction.

Tamara shared many of Granite Bay’s themes from the past years, but let’s focus on the 2016-2017 theme. Check out the details below…

  • THEME: “Rising by Lifting Others”
  • THEME QUOTE: “Take the lead, lift others up as you climb, enjoy the journey and thrive.”
  • SYMBOL: Hot Air Balloon
  • ACTIVITIES: Create videos about how people have been helped/encouraged by others; Instagram account with daily posting of people sharing who has lifted them up; “Weekly Rise”—bulletin stories of people being lifted up by others.
  • THEME VIDEO: https://youtu.be/PAKTBjj1NFQ

“Our school-wide themes have given us something to unite behind for the year,” Tamara told me, “They provide focus and vision for staff and students. It’s good when everyone is on the same page, and regardless of what we may be in disagreement about; everyone unites behind the theme for the year. The theme is a constant reminder to practice what we are preaching on a daily basis.“

If you want to learn more about how to build a strong message on your campus, I have created an intensive 1-hour webinar that is geared to take you deeper into this process. In this FREE offering, I teach you how to develop a slogan, create stories that stick, and how to focus your campus culture efforts so they make the kind of impact Tamara’s students are making on her campus.

Click www.teentruth.net/DevelopingYourMessage to view this webinar. It is a YouTube video and will not be taken down or deleted. I’m not one of those guys that will only make this available for a limited time. I want this FREE resource to live on so you can refer back to it as you work to build your school’s culture.


If you need further help developing these aspects of your school culture, consider our student leadership summits or staff development workshops. You don’t have to do all this work by yourself!

Honored to be in this fight with you,


President & CEO | TEEN TRUTH

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