Valley Parents: Indian River students reflect on spreading cheer

Valley Parents Correspondent
Published: 5/20/2021 12:32:55 PM
Modified: 5/20/2021 12:32:51 PM

WEST CANAAN — As schools head toward the finish line of summer vacation, three students in Christine Labore’s sixth-grade class at Indian River Middle School reflected on their experiences in the classroom and how they tried to spread cheer in this “different” year.

The conversation below is with Labore, and sixth-graders Evelyn Bennett, 11, Molly Gray, 11, and Khush Patel, 13.

Christine Labore: “It’s important to me that the students get involved with their community. No matter which grade I have taught in the past, I’ve always done community service projects with my students, including big things like sending water to Puerto Rico when they had that horrible hurricane hit. They all have big hearts.

We have done all sorts of things. We have made cinnamon/gingerbread ornaments back around Thanksgiving time and made some decorations for the walls of the senior center because we knew with COVID they weren’t going to be able to see their families.

When we’ve seen or heard that there are community members who were sick or not feeling well, we’ve sent cards to them. We’ve made cards on multiple different occasions for the senior centers. We’ve also made a ‘kindness video’ (in February) that the kids themselves created, edited and everything. They came up with the whole storyline of it and carried that out.”

What has been one of your favorite projects this year?

Evelyn: “I liked the kindness video because it shows that we care about other people and that we want to show that they can hang in there with everything that’s been going on and that everybody’s been going through. It shows that people care about them and that they’re not going through what they’re going through alone.”

Molly: “My favorite project was also the kindness video because we put together a video that showed kindness and to let people know that they weren’t going through things alone and that it’s been hard for everybody and to keep trying.”

Khush: “My favorite was the gingerbread ornaments because they smelled good. And if someone at the senior center looked at them they’d be happy because they were made by cute kids.”

What was the kindness video?

Labore: “Basically, they took pictures and videos of them holding signs they created. Each sign there were messages of kindness and positivity to help people, to brighten their moods and get them through their day because we knew it was getting tough through the winter times for everybody.

It was also a way for them to show people outside of the school what they go through on a daily basis because things have changed so much in the way that school works. It was an overall video to show that they support people outside but also to show what they’ve been going through in school.

It was all put together to music. The song was We Are the World. They posted it on our school’s Facebook page and also put it out on all of the regular media that the school has connected to it.”

Most recently with the Easter cards you all made for Mascoma Area Senior Center, how does it make you feel to give cards to people, particularly seniors?

Molly: “It makes me feel good because we’re giving a little bit of kindness out to people who can’t see their family members because of COVID, and wish them happy holidays.”

Khush: “It makes me feel good and it also helps them and it counts as a good deed. There’s this quote I remember, ‘In the joy of others, lies our own joy.’ I forget who said the quote, but that’s the quote I remember. You can Google it.”

Evelyn: “It makes me feel proud of myself because I am showing other people that they can be happy even though they don’t get to see their family members and maybe they can spread happiness to other people. We did cards for a lot of the people there, as many as we could. If someone finished one card they would make another for more people. It was basically to spread all of the cards around to make them happy and make them feel good on the holidays.”

Is there a future project you all are working on before the end of the year?

Labore: “They’re in the middle of one. We’ve thought of a last project for the year, but it’s more internally for the school because we can tell the students are starting to get tired and it’s just been a long year with COVID and the different rules and things. It will be encouraging words in the hallways. They put up all their kind messages (from the video) around the school, too, so the students as they walk in would see these positive things. We were just thinking about swapping those out for some fresh ones and keeping them positive until the end of the year and helping them get through each day because we know it’s a long haul right now.”

Did you all get any kind of response to your kindness video or your cards and decorations?

Khush: “When we did the kindness video a lot of people thanked us or made posters that said, ‘thank you, you taught us…’ One of the eighth grade teachers said, we thank you for doing this. And one of the teachers cried, I think in a good way.”

Molly: “When we made the kindness video, people were super happy. When we made cards for people who were in the hospital not feeling good, because my dad was in the hospital and he liked them a lot. Evie’s grandma had COVID and she also liked the cards a lot when we made them for her.”

Evelyn: “For the kindness video, we got a lot of thank yous. And we got some really big appreciation notes. For the cards that we sent out to the senior centers one of the other teachers who gave them to the senior center she came back and told us that they appreciated what we did for them. When we made the cards for my grandmother and Molly’s dad, my grandmother and her dad thanked us for everything that we’ve been doing for them and for what we’ve been doing for other people who don’t get to see their family.”

Evelyn: “I just wanted to note that for the kindness video, everybody in the class participated. The teachers also did. Ms. Labore helped us with shooting everything and gave us the cameras.

“A lot of people helped with the video editing. When we did the videos of how life is outside and at recess and at lunch, everybody participated. We also included the other classes as well and they thanked us as well. For the cards we also participated in that. If somebody wasn’t here to do the cards one day, then they would come back the next day and remake up for it and do another card.”

What has COVID been like for students?

Labore: “They stay in the same class all day. My class doesn’t leave, which normally they would travel around to the different classes and mix with the other students. This year, everybody has to stay in their class and the teachers are the ones who move. They haven’t been able to play with their friends at recess or anything like that. We all have assigned areas that they have to stay in. It’s even more challenging on them because it’s not just from school to school, it’s also from class to class.”

Molly: “With people who are remote too we have some friends who are remote that we don’t get to see at all because of COVID. We can only communicate to them through texts. We can’t really ever actually see them and we have friends in other classes too that we don’t get to see or hang out with.

“Usually, before COVID, we would have lunch all in one room so we would get to sit with different people and talk and stuff. Sometimes it’s different because a lot of the things we do now we did differently before. We don’t get to see all of our friends, so it is different.”

Evelyn: “Sometimes I get upset because I don’t get to see my friends. Like Molly said, the people in remote, I very rarely get to see them. If we’re talking through texts or on the phone, if one of us has to go, we don’t really speak for a while after that, like if we were in-person. When we’re in the classroom, we’re not allowed to go to other people’s desks — we have to stay at our desk. And we have to stay six feet apart so we’re not allowed to hug each other if someone’s sad or angry. We’re not allowed to help each other by picking up someone’s stuff on the ground.

“Sometimes it makes me pretty upset that I can’t help people in the way I normally would, but other times it makes me happy because sometimes it’s kind of difficult having people in your personal space all of the time.”

Molly: “For like science, we usually do group projects and projects that would require us to do as a whole group as a class at a table, and we can’t do group projects anymore because of COVID. And we can’t for our projects if you have to bring something in to use, you can’t really bring it in because you’re bringing stuff in from your house.”

Khush: “Less freedom in one room. We got used to it.”

Evelyn: “For Valentine’s Day this year, if we were going to give out candy or something, we had to put it in the classroom and leave it there for four days until it was OK to eat. It was difficult because only one person was able to go at a time so you couldn’t socialize and stuff. You mainly just stayed at your desk. For some people, it’s like you can sit regularly and move your eyes and the (bags of candy) are staring right at you and it’s so tempting not to just go up and eat it.”

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