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‘Every Knight’: The ‘Why’ behind everything that Prospect does”

‘Every Knight’: The ‘Why’ behind everything that Prospect does”

Who are we as a school? What matters to us? How do we define that and engrain it more deeply in everything we do?

Each and every District 214 school has undertaken the challenge of answering these fundamental questions.

In the case of Prospect High School, school leaders have long had a pretty good idea of how to answer the first two questions. What they wanted was a way to crystalize that feeling and declare it in a way that would both explain and inspire.

The school already was on a path of ensuring that all students feel included and empowered. Prospect was, for example, preparing to transition from a traditional Student Council model of student government to a more inclusive Associated Student Body model. In fact, Assistant Principal Frank Mirandola and World Languages teacher Chris Cirrincione were participating in a conference to finalize that transition – just before the pandemic’s onset – when several ideas clicked that sparked the launch of the “Every Knight” campaign.

The word play on the school’s team name was perfect because it allows Prospect to honor and celebrate each student as an individual and, at the same time, to recognize that the school derives its strength and energy from the collective value and contributions of all students immersed in a common learning experience.

“The idea is that we would be more inclusive, more engaging and more empowering,” explains Assistant Principal Frank Mirandola.

A #EveryKnight social media stroll shows the many ways in which Prospect students and staff are engaged and excelling. But the campaign goes well beyond a hashtag.

“Every Knight is our ‘why’ behind what we do,” Mirandola says, “It’s in every part of the building. Academics. Arts. Athletics. Everyone is treated as an individual. Everyone is part of our story. Every Knight truly matters the moment they walk in our doors.”

Launching the “Every Knight” brand and investing staff and students in the campaign during a pandemic has posed challenges, but Prospect has admirably found ways to make a splash and apply the campaign in ways both practical and meaningful.

For instance, with some students struggling academically in the midst of the pandemic, Prospect instituted during the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year a successful “Every Knight Achieves” (EKA) program. Counselors identified students who would benefit from EKA’s guided study hall with frequent and intentional interventions. Staff members formed teams composed of one teacher from every department in addition to a counselor, administrator and social worker. Each team worked as tutors and advocates with groups of four to six students.

With student inclusion - individual and collective - at the heart of “Every Knight,” the slogan was painted on a cafeteria wall and serves as a backdrop for student photos and honor presentations. Complementing that, one wall reads “Welcome” in more than 20 languages because, as Mirandola notes, “Every Knight is not from the same origins.”

The Associated Student Body produced a video in which students offered short takes on what “Every Knight” means to them - a video that will be part of an introduction to the school for incoming freshmen. A photo collage of the phrase “Every Knight” composed of miniaturized pictures of every Prospect student also became a video.

Prospect – which draws students primarily from parts of Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Prospect Heights – had long thrived on a reputation for academic excellence and vibrant student and staff involvement in a wide range of activities. The goal moving forward: To intentionally become more inclusive. More engaging. More empowering.

“Every Knight is more than a phrase,” Mirandola says, “It is how we live.”