For years, Central Catholic High School in Southeast Portland has been known by the motto “Preparing students for college and life since 1939.” Integral to the school since its beginning is an emphasis on character, say school staff.

In order to nurture and grow this value, school leadership started a four-year character education program. Called the Character in Leadership Academy, it is designed to develop integrity, courage, resilience and faith in students who want to impact the Central Catholic community and beyond.

In its inaugural year, the academy has 12 freshmen who applied as eighth graders. Each year, a new cohort of freshmen will be added, and by 2023 there will be cohorts in all four grade levels.

During their time at Central Catholic, the students will take leadership courses focused on developing and practicing the skills needed to serve others in a diverse community. The classes will incorporate guest speakers, adult mentors and college peer mentors who will teach students how to lead with character, faith and resilience in the face of future challenges. The goal is to help students advance the skills to lead and serve something bigger than themselves.

“As students participate in the Character in Leadership Academy, becoming leaders and demonstrating character growth and a positive example to their peers and the larger community, Central Catholic hopes to continue to grow and thrive as the school where character matters,” reads a press release from the school.