The Significance of Handshakes

Bona Verba from the Headmaster

At Cincinnati Classical Academy, a simple yet profound tradition unfolds each morning at the Blue Awning Entrance. As the headmaster, I find immense importance in personally welcoming our students with a firm handshake as they enter our school. This time-honored practice isn’t just a mere formality; it’s a tangible expression of our commitment to fostering a warm and welcoming environment for every one of our 602 students in grades K-7. But the practice doesn’t end at the entrance. Our teachers also extend this gesture of connection and respect by shaking their students’ hands as they enter their classrooms.

Handshakes have transcended centuries and cultures, symbolizing connection, respect, and camaraderie. In the context of CLASSICAL, they signify something even more profound: the affirmation of our shared commitment to education, character development, and the pursuit of knowledge. Here are a few reasons why the act of shaking hands holds such significance for us:

  1. Building Relationships: At the heart of our educational mission lies the development of strong, positive relationships between students, faculty, and staff. A handshake represents a genuine interaction—a moment where individuality is acknowledged and valued. By taking a moment to engage with every student, we lay the foundation for meaningful connections that extend beyond the classroom.
  2. Creating a Sense of Belonging: Stepping into a school environment can sometimes be intimidating, especially for new students or those transitioning to a higher grade. A friendly handshake serves as an immediate reassurance that they are part of a caring community. It communicates that each student is important to the CLASSICAL community.
  3. Modeling Respect: As classical educators, we teach our students the importance of respect for others. By shaking hands, I aim to lead by example, demonstrating that respect is not just a concept we discuss, but a virtue we embody. It also teaches students the significance of acknowledging and valuing one another, recognizing their inherent dignity.
  4. Instilling Confidence: A handshake can be a subtle confidence boost, especially for our younger students. Knowing that the headmaster takes a moment to greet them by name—and I strive to learn every student’s name quickly—with a handshake imparts a sense of worth and importance. This gesture can empower students to confidently engage in the learning process and express their thoughts and ideas.
  5. Reinforcing Character Education: CLASSICAL is dedicated to nurturing not only academic excellence but also character development. A handshake aligns with the virtues we emphasize, such as courage, gratitude, and compassion. By actively engaging in this gesture, we reiterate the importance of these virtues in our daily interactions.
  6. Enhancing our CLASSICAL Culture: The practice of shaking hands has become a cherished aspect of our school’s culture. It’s a unique tradition that distinguishes our school community and underscores our commitment to creating an environment where individuals are recognized and valued. It also fosters a sense of unity among our student body.

In the grand scheme of things, a handshake may seem like a small gesture. However, its impact extends far beyond the physical touch. It’s a conduit for meaningful connections, a way to communicate respect, and a symbol of unity. As the headmaster of Cincinnati Classical Academy, I am honored to partake in this daily ritual!

Torches Up!
Michael Rose
Michael Rose - Headmaster

Mr. Michael Rose

Meet the Headmaster

Mr. Rose has taught various courses at Brown University, Cincinnati Moeller, and The Summit Country Day School. As a part of his degree work in education, Mr. Rose’s research interests included the Great Books curriculum, the Paideia teaching method, and the “effects of emerging digital technology on student reading, writing, and researching.” Read More