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A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way

Students Extend Warmth through Hospitality Club

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Taking time to say thank you can make someone’s day, students in Oriole Park Elementary School’s Hospitality Club are discovering.

A couple dozen handwritten cards decorated by 10 first- and second-graders go out each month to parents, teachers and other volunteers who have helped at the school. The students are in the club to learn what it means to be hospitable: welcoming people and showing warmth and gratitude.

Recently students settled down with crayons in hand to put their signature touches on the cards. “They’re happy when they get their cards and I make it for them,” first-grader Bristol Kennedy said.

Teagyn Ager is in place to greet students before school
Teagyn Ager is in place to greet students before school

“I feel good inside,” said first-grader Zackary Kinney.

They’ve also sent cards to veterans atresidents of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Third-grade teachers Sarah McKinney and Sheri Adams, who lead the club, said it is tied to the school’s character education program, TrueSuccess, which focuses on developing positive behavior skills to make wise choices. Students explore topics including respect, wisdom, thankfulness, self-control, perseverance, responsibility, encouragement, caring and integrity.

Members of the club also meet students at the school door, greeting them with bright smiles to begin the school day, and greet visitors in the office. They also pass out programs at school events, like the recent holiday concert.

Roselyn Abbey and Teagyn Ager wait for students to arrive
Roselyn Abbey and Teagyn Ager wait for students to arrive

“Some kids might not have had a good morning, so theirs might be the first smiling face they see for the day,” Adams said of club members greeting students at the door.

Smiles and gratitude are contagious, students are learning.

“What my students notice is a ripple effect of gratitude,” Adams said. “They recognize the connection between gratefulness and service. If we are dispensing and showing hospitality, we are going to have a grateful heart.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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