Northwestern Press

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PRESS PHOTOS BY ANNA GILGOFF Guidance counselor Kate Petcavage is flanked by fifth graders Alyssa Harding, Hannah Lindercuffler, Jakayla Holmes, Cameron Boyko and Hailey George just before the assembly program. PRESS PHOTOS BY ANNA GILGOFF Guidance counselor Kate Petcavage is flanked by fifth graders Alyssa Harding, Hannah Lindercuffler, Jakayla Holmes, Cameron Boyko and Hailey George just before the assembly program.
Second graders used art to define kindness and respect. Second graders used art to define kindness and respect.
Jake Bennett's third graders wrote letters expressing their thanks to those who had helped them in the past. Jake Bennett's third graders wrote letters expressing their thanks to those who had helped them in the past.

Students celebrate the meaning of kindness

Thursday, January 22, 2015 by ANNA GILGOFF Special to The Press in School

Actions backed by words united Northwestern Elementary School students together in an assembly program where they shared the meaning of kindness and respect.

According to guidance counselor Kate Petcavage, each grade expressed the theme of kindness in its own inimitable way.

"The kindergarten had a winter clothing type drive," she said. "First grade wrote poems about kindness and second grade created posters to hang in the hallway."

"The third grade decided to write letters to people in the school who had shown them kindness," said third grade teacher Jake Bennett.

In a letter to Mrs. Smith, one student linked kindness to loyalty and generosity.

"I know you are all of the kind things I said and more," she wrote in her letter.

Another student wrote her thanks to Mrs. Talianeck, for helping her with reading.

Bennett's said several third graders read their letters aloud and presented a flower to the person addressed in the letter at the assembly.

"Kate Petcavage put the whole thing together," said Bennett.

"We started with respect," said Petcavage, adding as part of character education, elementary teachers taught mini lessons about the importance of respect. "The fourth graders created a dance and song using Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off.'

"The fifth graders helped me do the morning announcement and they wrote kindness acrostics."

The specialists had their students create a message chain, which would be displayed in the rotunda of the building.

The idea of kindness and respect united the entire school.

"We read 'Shelf Elf,' a story about taking care of library books," said librarian Sue Hanlon. "Then, we brainstormed ways we could be kind to books."

"Presenters from the crime victim unit tied bullying into [the theme]," said Petcavage. "Sensei Rob Wetmore from Leading Edge Martial Arts talked about the connection between discipline and respect."

Petcavage said Principal Maria Pulli planted the first seed.

"It was kind of her idea, which led to a lot of different conversations," she explained. "Kindness is a broad term but it could be applied to a lot of situations."

Next month, the school will focus on courage.