Last week while visiting classrooms I heard a student ask, “Mrs. P, I’m all done with everything for the week. Can I head over and see if I can help out in my buddy’s classroom?” This question made me smile, as it highlighted an important value within our school. This student could have used the remaining minutes in the school day to socialize with friends or use his iPad, but instead, he chose to support others.
Serving others is a highly valued component of our school. As a pre-kindergarten through grade twelve school, we expect all of our students to engage in giving back. We provide frequent opportunities for students to support others and experience the value of service.
This past Friday we welcomed our newest students to our learning community at our Kindergarten Crowning ceremony. We have engaged in this tradition for decades and the ritual marks the beginning of their journey at BFA Fairfax.
This event is one component of our Kindergarten Buddies program that matches students in fifth grade with kindergarten students for the entire year. Over the months, these students engage in a variety of activities from reading and hiking, to creating art projects or sharing a snack. Over time a unique bond is formed, and buddies young and old learn important lessons about giving back and the value of kindness.
As the new Kindergarten students emerged from the human bridge made by their schoolmates and received their crowns from their “Buddies”, I asked a high school student who frequently volunteers her time in classrooms if she remembered this experience. She smiled and shared “absolutely.” Her reaction reinforced my belief that this tradition of fostering connections truly matters.
For me, this ritual is a symbolic event that provides a shared experience and fosters a strong sense of belonging. It is my hope that our Kindergarten Crowning ceremony will continue to celebrate the importance of service, leadership, and the power of relationships. I am thankful to the all the staff that continues to provide this experience for all of our students.
Thomas Walsh is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @educatamount