Schools celebrate year full of kindness, respectMay 21, 2018
By ALLEN LAMAN
DUBOIS — Friday afternoon rain showers did not stop students at Dubois and Celestine elementary schools from linking up at the Dubois Community Park to celebrate all the kind deeds they did throughout the past school year.
Beginning in the fall, students and staff at both buildings recognized each other for acts of kindness — such as sharing school supplies or standing up for their peers — by writing positive words of recognition on card-sized sheets of paper. Friday, the schools connected what Brenda Ferguson, principal of both schools, estimated to be more than 1,000 pieces of paper and spread them into two hearts to visualize the difference going the extra mile made.
“We’re out here to celebrate what we’ve worked hard on all year long,” Ferguson said, later adding that the schools had fewer disciplinary issues this year than in any of the previous nine she has been principal, demonstrating that the culture fostered at the schools this year had a direct impact on student behavior.
After the kids posed for a picture with the schools’ two hearts, they released balloons into the sky with positive messages tethered to them and played games of “Kindness Tag,” which required the kids to compliment the person they tagged.
The kids recognized that being kind to others is important.
Dubois Elementary third-grader Abbie Freyberger said that lending a helping hand and complimenting others makes her feel good, too.
“You’re making everybody feel good,” she said.
Every week, the student body at each respective school met to highlight the acts of kindness that kids completed. Megan Colvin, Dubois Elementary special needs teacher, said the students’ emotional intelligence expanded over the course of the year.
At the beginning, the acts were simple, like holding open a door. But by the end, students recognized each other for being empathetic and taking extra initiative.
“They definitely became a little bit more intellectual with what the kindness message actually was all about,” she said.
Ferguson said social-emotional learning will also be emphasized at the schools next year, with the themes of kindness and respect. Though the kids won’t be tested over the skills like they will during the ISTEP exam, they still hold immense value.
“If you’re going to be successful in life, these are the characteristics that are critical,” Ferguson said.
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