There is a new virus that is spreading through our school. This one is a good one. Chapter 1: The story begins with a Monday morning school-wide presentation a couple of weeks ago about our Joey (a Wornick eighth grader) - about her ever expanding mitzvah project that she began last year with a friend. The girls have created a venue for collecting beautiful outgrown Bat Mitzvah party dresses from friends and distributing them to less fortunate girls. Additionally, Joey and her friend Samantha arrange a party complete with donated food and a DJ so that the girls get to dress up and party. Their website http://www.dressitup4girls.org/dressitupca/Welcome.html tells it all.
Chapter 2: A week ago, I received an email from a fourth grader, Reid, saying that he has shared a google document with me. I opened it to find that Reid had set up another mitzvah project – to collect gently used clothing (he specified not ripped and not stained) to distribute to a local shelter. He put together a collection box for the front office and he prepared a speech for our Monday morning gathering. He presented this past Monday and charged the students to bring in at least one item of clothing this week. I need to add here that Reid heretofore has been a very shy, contemplative child. He held that microphone on Monday morning and gave his carefully prepared speech in front of about 230 children and adults.
Chapter 3: I have a weekly practice on Monday mornings of sharing a “kol hakavod” (shout out) for a student or a teacher in our community who has done something “above and beyond” to help someone. Some weeks we have one kol hakavod and some weeks none. Students or teachers can come up to me during the week to explain why someone deserves this honor and the recommending person gets to make that announcement on Monday morning.
This week, another fourth grader asked me if next week he could give a kol hakavod to one of his classmates. The kol hakavod is to a student who worked with other students and created an amazing video in scratch club. What is so remarkable about this one is that the subject of the kol hakavod is usually a very, very shy child, and his buddy was pushing him to glow about his success, and was sending me copies of his friend’s video. When I asked the boy who would be receiving the kol hakavod if he were okay with this announcement on Monday, his face lit up, he looked me in the eye (which he didn’t always do so easily) and said a hearty “yes”.
Chapter 4 & beyond: I received an email from a fifth grade girl yesterday who is thinking of a new mitzvah project – she has some ideas that are marinating and we are writing back and forth as she refines her thinking and planning……so it has been spreading from 8th grade to 4th grade and now making inroads into fifth grade.
All of this is happening organically – above and beyond the grade level mitzvah projects that we have been adopting this year. These stories are wonderful examples of a what a Wornick education is all about – an innovative (can-do) attitude, a heart that cares and understands obligations to improve the world, the power of project-based learning that integrates different disciplines and a strong community spirit.