A challenge at Tahoe Valley Elementary School | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A challenge at Tahoe Valley Elementary School

by Jill Darby, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Positive energy and polite efforts are so evident at Tahoe Valley Elementary School you can almost smell them.

In two weeks, Tahoe Valley students performed 4,620 acts of kindness and justice as part of “Do Something: Kindness and Justice Challenge,” a national education initiative aimed at honoring the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The nationwide challenge is focused on teaching elementary school students tolerance, respect and other important values and then encouraging them to put those lessons into action by performing acts of kindness at home, school and in their neighborhoods.

Laura Curatolo, Kathleen Whatford, Tracy Sabine and Eliana Morris headed up the school-wide program at Tahoe Valley Elementary, in which students kept track of their daily thoughtful behaviors for two weeks.

“This challenge highlighted acts of kindness and justice on a daily basis,” said Whatford, a third-grade teacher at Tahoe Valley. “It brought focus to students’ achievements while changing the vocabulary used within our school community. Acts of kindness and justice were brought to the conscious level and students learned by the examples of their peers. Instead of relating problems on the playground, acts of kindness were acknowledged.”

Whatford also commended Meyers Elementary School teacher Beth Quandt for her longtime involvement with the challenge.

Morris, a fifth-grade teacher at Tahoe Valley, said good habits students established during the challenge carried over into their home lives and continues at school.

“One of the positive outcomes of this program is how it affected the home/school connection,” she said. “It provided an opportunity for parents, students and teachers to work toward one common goal.”

Students also had a lot to say about what they learned from the Do Something Challenge.

“After we did the two weeks of justice and kindness it just became a habit for people, being nice, telling the truth,” fifth-grader Kristyn Barker said. “Being kind is nice and it helped our school a lot because more people are friends now.”

Nine-year-old Tanner Hart said a pep rally made students excited about the challenge.

“It was really unusual because my friend’s brothers were nicer and my brother was nicer,” he said. “When we did the pep rally it made them excited and so they wanted to just be nicer.”

Tahoe Valley students have been more supportive and respectful of each other since the challenge, third-grader Andrew Chavez said.

“What surprised me is ever since the justice and kindness challenge was over the kids here got a good habit from it,” Chavez said. “When kids are sad or bored other kids cheer them up.”

According to a national overview of participation in the Do Something: Kindness and Justice Challenge, 4,209,903 students and 15,966 educators throughout the country were involved and 1,549,316 acts of kindness and justice were performed. Tahoe Valley ranked third in the state of California for schools with “1,000 plus acts of kindness.” The school will receive a certificate of recognition for all of its hard work.

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