Though the holiday is coming to an end, the impulse to share one of the school visits of last week is strong. On Monday, when most of us return to work and school, the seriousness and the pace of our lives will come back quickly enough, but for just a while longer I want to linger in the run-up to Thanksgiving. It is a great time in many work environments, and certainly is in our schools.
Last Tuesday, after a morning of quick visits to four other schools I spent a wonderful half-hour at Baxter Elementary. The routine was in full swing, and like the other elementary schools Baxter seemed to have that extra energy that precedes an upcoming break. Busy as students were with reading, mathematics, physical education or art, thankfulness was a working theme.
“What are you thankful for?” was posted outside the school office, and a felt-tip marker tied to a string invited any would-be writer to add a note. Julie Anderson, the Baxter School secretary, invited many Baxter students to write and the students literally filled two large panels displayed in the school hallway. Students answered, all in ‘turkey brown’ marker, writing up, down, and across the huge sheet of white paper with some of the following:
1. Peanut Butter.
2. My family.
3. God, Mr. Lundberg, and Julie (listed in that order!).
4. My friends.
5. The puppy I might get.
6. My school.
7. People who smile at me.
8. Toads and cucumbers.
9. The U.S.A.
11. Fishing in the summer.
More examples from the lists entitled “25 Things to be Thankful For” could be found outside Mrs. Surma’s room:
1. My mom and dad.
2. A bed so I can fall asleep.
3. My grandparents.
4. The sound of waves.
5. Popsicles that drip down my hand.
6. Birds that sing in the morning.
7. Our United States.
8. The Beverly Cleary books.
9. My dog Buster.
10. Dreams that help me believe.
11. A school to help me learn.
Aren’t those wonderful glimpses of what’s going on in the hearts and the minds of the children of our community? Elementary students practice thankfulness in many ways, and they do so with an innocence and a sincerity that I am still appreciating as we finish off the Thursday leftovers.
To stand outside the hallway and scan the many lists was to be educated again about what’s important to our community’s children. They want the things we all want — a loving family, security, freedom — and they want other things too, like a good book, fun things to see or do, a good dog, and a great school. Giving thanks throughout this weekend has been easy; we have so much for which to offer thanks!
STEVE RAZIDLO is superintendent of the Brainerd School District.