Change for the better |

Change for the better

A little kindness can go a long way. That is the message at Highland Elementary. After the Dec. 26 tsunami, Highland counselor Karen Gose saw something stir in her students – something that she wanted to build on.”I saw how our kids reacted to giving toward our tsunami relief efforts,” Gose said. “Our students are caring for people on the other side of the world. That spurred something in me to carry that forward to improve our school.”Teaming with art teacher Laurelee MacHale, Gose developed a program she hopes will have a significant impact on Highland Elementary.”The focus is on people,” Gose said. “We need to show how we are all connected to each other, the community and the world.”Gose went to each of the classrooms and presented a mini-lesson on unity, caring and kindness. Using figures from the Save the Children Campaign, she explained how $2.50 can buy a family jars to collect fresh rainwater, and $300 can build two houses in developing countries. “We are already doing so many good things here at Highland. We had a can drive for LIFT-UP and we visited the nursing home. I’m hoping to expand those random acts of kindness to home, school and community,” Gose said.People will be the focus of a lesson that will permeate the rest of the school year. That is where MacHale and her art class come in.Each of the Highland Elementary classes is constructing a person from recycled products and papier-mâché. The faces of the people are mirrors to represent the reflection of the world. Each class will display the person it built in a display of unity.Gose said she is already seeing an impact from the lessons.”I see students paying it forward in the classroom. It has hit home with kids – they are definitely thinking about others,” she said.Tsunami relief rounds out busy scheduleFor the past four weeks, several of the Garfield Re-2 schools have been actively raising money for various tsunami relief agencies in addition to their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Many schools chose to hold a penny war. In a penny war, teams or grades get positive points for each penny they collect and negative points in the amount of each silver coin or bill in the jar. For example, if there were 100 pennies, a nickel and a dollar bill in a jar, the team would have -5 points. The silver and dollar bill negate the copper in the jar.Rifle High School raised $2,254.10 through an aggressive penny war. Rifle Middle School students raised a total of $1,482.15, spearheaded by the student council. Highland Elementary raised $1,734.93, also through a penny war its student council initiated.Wamsley Elementary raised money by doing chores and odd jobs around home and school, and donated the money. All together, Wamsley students raised $663.50. All three of these efforts are raising money for UNICEF through the Alpine Bank matching program. Including Alpine Bank’s match, the three schools raised $9,304.86.At Kathryn Senor Elementary, students raised $1,916.55 through the efforts of the Safe School Ambassadors and the Pay-It-Forward lesson for January. City Market contributed $513, bringing KSE’s total to $2,429.55. The money will go to the Red Cross.Students at Riverside are collecting money and their totals are not yet known.Exceptional bus studentsThe Garfield Re-2 transportation department has announced January’s exceptional bus students. The winners are: from Highland Elementary, Joebani Vasquez from Bill Tabor’s Route 32; from Rifle Middle School, Debra Payne from Anita Eckley’s Route 7; and from Rifle High School, Hunter Murphy from substitute driver Clint Buniger’s Route 6. Other nominees were, from Highland Elementary, Mya Hargrave, Jairo Ortega and Citali Quintero; from Rifle High School, Matt Varela; from Rifle Middle School, Diego Betran Alvarez, Shannon Black, Jocelyn Bracamontes, Jesse Blugielski, Brett Hardrick, Cody Mugford, Margarita Padron and Kylee Payne; and from Riverside Middle School, Jacob Bullock.Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for Garfield School District Re-2. She can be reached at 625-7621.

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