November is the Month of Gratitude and Giving. Courtesy/LAPS
November is traditionally celebrated as a month of Gratitude and Giving.
According to a recent article from the Harvard Medical School and Harvard Health Publishing, “each holiday season comes with high expectations for a cozy and festive time of year. However, for many this time of year is tinged with sadness, anxiety or depression. Research (and common sense) suggests that one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift the spirits, and it’s built right into the holiday — being grateful.
“The holidays can be a time of grief, loneliness, or added stress for many people,” said LAPS Healthy Schools Director Kristine Coblentz. “Practicing gratitude can be an effective antidote.”
Research supports the idea that gratitude can help people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. “We invite students, staff and families to practice gratitude and experience the positive effects including an increased sense of belonging and connection,” Coblentz said. “Expressing appreciation for others builds positive school culture and plays an important role in social emotional learning.
According to positivepsychology.com, “the family practice of gratitude not only teaches children a lifelong ability to evoke positive emotions, it also builds deeper bonds within the family unit. Character counts and teaching kids that it does, starts with gratitude.” The article linked here includes many suggestions for activities that families can engage in together.
School sites throughout the district are embracing this attitude of being grateful and giving to others. Students in Lynn Ovaska’s Psychology classes are studying emotions. “We will be looking at the research on how gratitude influences happiness,” Mrs. Ovaska said. Students will have the opportunity to compose a Gratitude Letter to someone who has made a positive difference in their life.
Davine Jones, principal at Barranca Mesa Elementary, noted that the 4th grade team is currently having a pajama drive. “Our K-Kids Club donated books to Africa, and we are also organizing Thanksgiving baskets for families in need in coordination with the Barranca PTO and Student Council.”
Jodi Smith’s PteK class is collecting warm socks and other winter clothing for Inside Out. Courtesy/LAPS
Jodi Smith’s PreSchool class built a donation box for Inside Out, a collaboration with the Food Depot, to help families in Española and surrounding areas in need. They are collecting warm Winter socks and items of clothing. Another PreK class at Mountain Elementary is holding a sock drive.
At Piñon Elementary School, students are participating in a food drive, and are also collecting socks and blankets. Students in the Los Alamos Online Learning Academy are making Thanksgiving placemats and writing notes for the residents of Sombrillo and Aspen Ridge.
“Students are also dropping off leaves for our window, sharing the things they are grateful for,” added LAOLA Principal Kati Steinberg.
“Our Builder’s Club is collecting books for the African Library Project,” Los Alamos Middle School Principal Suzanne Lynne said. “Our Hawk’s Nests (Homeroom) have gratitude lessons teachers can use each day.” Students, staff and visitors are also greeted with a quote about gratitude written on the white board in the front lobby every day.
And at the high school, the Topper library staff are continuing their animal shelter donation drive through November, benefitting Los Alamos Animal Shelter and LA Cares. “The library is also hosting Booksgiving; we’re encouraging students and staff to give old books a new home,” explained librarian Shannon Seitz. Information for both events is posted on the Connections page.
The LAHS Student Council collected food donations for LA Cares, and DECA is collecting socks, hats, mittens and other winter items that will be delivered to the Santa Fe homeless shelter.
“It is wonderful to see the many acts of giving throughout the district,” summed up Ms. Coblentz. “We are grateful for the generosity of our community and the role everyone plays in teaching and modeling the importance of gratitude.”
School Board Vice President Ellen Specter, third from left, drops off a donation to the LAHS Student Council Food Drive. Courtesy/LAPS