In order to encourage my students to think about others I started up a “Secret Buddy” month. Joining with Charity, the elementary school teacher, we decided that we would allow the high-schoolers pick an elementary students’ name out of a “hat” and vice-versa. On the name slip was also information of what each student liked to help give ideas to their secret buddy. The objective was to secretly do something nice for each other once a week. Of course, the hard part was not letting the other person know who you are. I saw gifts of soda, cookies, drawings, poems, flowers, balloons with money in them, etc. go to both schools. It was a blessing to encourage my students to think through small gifts for them to give to their buddy. Apparently the elementary kids really enjoyed this and were talking about it all week. This was a great way to get both schools involved with each other.
On the fourth week we decided to end it due to three of the students leaving to go back to the USA for HMA (home ministry assignment). The elementary students wanted to do a surprise for the high-schoolers in the form of an Easter Egg Hunt. My students had no idea and were surprised when they arrived at the circle to exchange our last gifts and reveal our “secret identity” to our buddy. They were told that they had to find five eggs of different colors for each student (so one student had to find all the yellow, etc). The trick was that there were only four eggs to find because the fifth one was with their buddy. So, not only was it a cute and fun way to reveal who they were, but my students got candy and prizes as well. The high-schoolers than gave out their fourth gift with the elementary students assuming that was the end of the “Secret Buddy” month. What they did not know is that the high-schoolers were planning an end-of-school surprise party for them (more on that later). Anyways, after gifts were given, my Mom brought fresh home-made donuts for everyone! Lots of joy abounded over that. Positive feedback came from all the students and they have asked to do it again next year. The one thing they asked is to have everybody’s name in a hat and not just do high-schoolers getting an elementary student and vice-versa.
Now for “end of school party” for the elementary students…my students have been teaching a library and p.e. elective to the elementary students twice a week. With three students leaving this month they finished up those electives and wanted to do something nice for the elementary kids on the last day. So, as a part of our “Secret Buddy” month we decided to do a party. First the elementary students were given end-of-the-year prizes for reading and being involved in sports. They then got to snack on cupcakes, popcorn and a veggie tray. After that was a cake-walk for lollipops. And then they went outside to run off some of that sugar! It was fun to watch the older and younger students interact with each other, and great to listen to their laughter. The best part for me though was when we played “back-to-back tag” where you cannot tag the people who are back-to-back (although they can only stay that way for 10 seconds). Anyways, the person who was “it” had not been able to get anyone for a bit so we changed it to Caleb being “it”. When the kids heard this their eyes got BIG and they all ran screaming in the other direction as Caleb took after them.
The elementary school party was not the only one we had this month. Since one of my students is leaving we had a high-school party as well. We invited Rachel, Jordan and Charity. These three have had a meaningful impact on my students and we wanted to thank them for that. Food was an awesome pizza buffet, veggie tray, popcorn and amazing dessert (including home-made ice-cream and cookie dough with no eggs). The meal passed with lots of laughter and story telling. After the meal we played games that included “fish bowl,” UNO, and a game like Jenga but more complex. At about ten the party started winding down and we all decided to call it a night.
I am so thankful for my students and the companionship they share with each other. I am also so proud of them for stepping up in all these activities. They have all truly been a blessing in my life.