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VIA Values in Action

The Sterling Hall School has embraced the Values in Action (VIA) Character classification as the framework by which we help boys understand universal core virtues, and discover their own signature character strengths.

At SHS, character, community and citizenship operate in tandem. Boys learn early on to recognize their own unique strengths as identified through the VIA core virtues and character strengths, and become confident by challenging themselves to deepen them on a daily basis. They also learn the power of these strengths in relationships and community.

In practical terms, we engage in active discussion of character through the classroom community circles of our daily Health and Community program. Boys are invited to aspire to character traits and take note of people in their lives and beyond that they want to emulate. We also take time to reflect on the role a given character trait played during learning and other moments in life. We know boys are really getting the hang of using their Sterling Character smarts when they are caught planning which strengths they want to use in a given challenge.

We know that character develops more in the little and big challenges we face everyday, than in the moments of smooth sailing. Informally, we see confidence appear every time a boy raises his hand to risk sharing his emotional response during our daily community circles. Resilience shows itself when a student vows to improve a disappointing grade through study and reflection, picks himself up after missing an opportunity to score during his sports game, or commits to being an even kinder friend or classmate.  

The VIA Institute on Character

The VIA Institute on Character ( is a system that identifies 24 character strengths, and provides tools to help users analyze their own strongest traits in order to assess and build on the best of what’s inside them. Each character falls into one of six broad core virtue categories, which are universal across time, cultures and nations.

Teachers weave VIA Core Virtues and character strengths into co-curriculars, teams, and on field trips, and our entire community reflects on character in events like assemblies. Boys recognize character through initiatives such as the Buddy Bench, Recess Rockstar and the Sterling Stars programs. At SHS, we are very proud that the first page of our report card is written by the boy and focuses on his character strengths in action.

For more information on the VIA system, including the list of 24 character strengths, visit


Here is the list of the Core Virtues:

  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Humanity
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Transcendence