By Shannon Ouellette, Principal-Belmont Elementary
A school full of students has a contagious atmosphere during the holidays. The sights and sounds of the season can be seen and heard upon entering any school building in our district. Though students and staff celebrate the season in many ways, giving back and helping those in need is a common thread within all of our schools.
Each month all RPS elementary schools study a character education life skill. Not by coincidence, generosity is the December life skill. Throughout December, elementary students will have an opportunity to learn about generosity through classroom education and will be given opportunities to demonstrate this life skill.
Across the district, elementary and secondary buildings are planning and organizing opportunities for students to show generosity. Rockford High School has created a unique program called Winter Wishes. The Winter Wishes program allows students to ask for a wish for a fellow student or community member(s). The Student Council then helps to fill these wishes, which include organizing rides for a student, providing lunch for a student, and helping a student get warm winter wear.
Food drives, participation in Toys For Tots, and mitten and hat collections are all part of district initiatives this season. In November, Parkside Elementary collected over 1500 pounds of food by participating in a Feed America Food Drive. Cannonsburg Elementary will hold holiday service parties in lieu of traditional holiday parties. Students will be sorting hats, mittens and coats that have been collected and will then be donated. The Freshman Center is conducting a gift card drive, specifically gift cards to Meijer. Meijer gift cards allow families to purchase food items, gifts, and even fuel for their automobiles. East Middle School participated in a Whitecaps Community Foundation give-back program. Students brought in donations of personal care items that will be distributed locally.
Because generosity of spirit is just as important, students at all grade levels are reaching out to active service men and women by writing letters and creating cards. These cards and letters will be sent to those in the service that will not be home with their families for the holidays, as well as to local veterans.
The examples shared are only a small part of the generosity of our school community. These acts have helped to create a contagious spirit of giving and gratitude. Anyone in need of some holiday spirit would only have to visit one of our schools to catch it.