In an effort to revitalize community values, Franklin High School administration is leading the effort to update the STRONG acronym. Currently, STRONG stands for Strive to be, Thoughtful, Respectful, Organized, Neighborly, Generous. Each word also has a phrase expanding on the word’s purpose. Posters with the STRONG abbreviation are hung in every classroom and are intended to act as key values for community members to model. While the redesign is being led by Vice Principal Robyn Griffiths, it will be informed by student input.
The timeline for this project is unclear, however, the hope is to have a final version by the end of the 2022-23 school year. First steps include talking to student leadership before branching out to affinity clubs and the student body as a whole. “I want to be smart about it and make sure everyone has a voice if they want,” Griffiths remarks.
Many students feel that Franklin STRONG’s popularity is currently low. Senior Charlie Gulling says “only as a joke” has he heard STRONG referenced. Likewise, referring to the acronym’s impact, alumni Gwilym Horner said “it did not impact my life whatsoever.” All classrooms reference the STRONG acronym during the first weeks of the school year, as students read the handbook, but for the next eight months the posters tend to be the only reminder of our STRONG values.
Some students have stated that the proliferation of the posters is something that may lead to their negative image. “I feel like it’s a little bit excessive,” says senior Isabel Deumling. “I get having it in the classroom … but I feel like walking down the hallway and seeing them one after another is a little too much.”
Griffiths says the goal for the remake is to make the acronym more “meaningful to people.” She hopes to streamline the acronym to something universally recognizable by the whole community, not just students. “If you look at each one of those acronyms, they might mean different things to different people,” says Griffiths. “What I want to do is condense so we don’t have three different categories for students, teachers, and the community.”
Some students believe that STRONG is a lost cause: “I think it’s beyond repair, and potentially a waste of time to put effort into a new version that students are just going to make fun of,” remarked an anonymous member of the Associated Student Body (ASB). However, this feedback isn’t anything Griffiths didn’t expect; “I think it’s fair that some would say ‘why are we even doing this,’ but … [it’s] nice to have something to strive for in your mission,” she says.
According to staff, since returning from the pandemic, Franklin has seen increased behavioral problems and general contempt for our staff, community, and the physical school in a rogue turn away from the STRONG values. A recent newsletter from Principal Chris Frazier implored students to throw garbage in trash cans after the school received complaints from the neighborhood about littering. “I think the idea of having core values is great, but I believe the focus should be on integrating them into our community in more productive ways,” the ASB member says. Some might see the revised STRONG values as a first step in realigning our values as a community.
The scale of the redesign is unknown at this point in time. Franklin could see a whole new acronym, although Griffith says she feels as if “a lot of people know and use the Franklin STRONG.” More likely, words themselves within the acronym may change and the corresponding phrases will most likely be altered.
As an example, Griffiths doesn’t believe that the R (respectful) connects with the community adequately. “Some people have confusion around the R, like respect means different things to different people,” she says.
The S (Strive to be…) could possibly see a change as students have made requests to alter it. Deumling says, “I feel like each of the letters should be a trait … I feel like ‘strive to be’ is kind of like a cheat.”
All hope is not lost. “I like the idea of an acronym, I just think this particular one could be been done better,” says Deumling.