Crafting a warm thank you for Terrace’s emergency service workers and senior care providers is just one of the ways that young leaders at Skeena Middle School are being inspired with the rewards of giving.
Student council groups took ‘thank you’ cards and donuts around town just last month, aiming to show appreciation to servants of the community who often go un-thanked. They dropped by the Terrace fire hall, RCMP detachment, the BC Ambulance Station, Mills Memorial Hospital and Terraceview.
Grade 9 student Nadia Gifford said it was a great experience. “It reminded us of how much they do,” she said, adding that they had to wait at the police station for 10 minutes because police were busy with calls.
“They were so busy taking calls and doing work,” she said. “We were reminded that they have so much that they have to do, that we don’t even get to see.”
A keen perceiver, Gifford also noticed how the workers they visited, showed their gratitude in different ways. Some gushed their thanks right away, but the busy nurses at the hospital expressed their thank you via a letter shortly after.
“So people say thank you in different ways, and you always have to appreciate things no matter how they come,” she said.
Learning to relate to people is a big part of student council for many students.
Grade 9 student Matthew Pigeon commented that he’d learned a lot about the diverse perspectives among the students and how to compromise and come to agreement.
The 30-member student council group is focused on boosting school and community spirit, and has organized all kind of events.
From spirit days to a socktober clothing drive, to bake sale fundraisers for the Terrace animal shelter, the group has learned about working as a team and giving back.
For Josh Pleshka, prime minister of student council, it’s been a great opportunity to develop leadership.
“I’ve always had that sense of leadership that I’ve wanted to fulfill in other places than my family,” said Pleshka, who is in Grade 9.
“When you have a sense of leadership, you kind of have to take it somewhere,” he added, noting that he’s learned the value of actively getting involved.
“It’s better to get involved than to do nothing at all,” he said, adding that it’s through being involved that you experience gratitude, and you get the joy of surprising people and brightening their day.
“Sometimes even the smallest things can make a person’s day much brighter,” he said.
Skeena teachers Kelly Scott and Sally Sousa, and education assistant Joy Hill, support student council by encouraging student ideas and guiding them as they develop those ideas.
All three said that student council helps students to be more aware of other people and those in need, and it encourages them to do something about it.
“I think it makes them more aware of our community,” said Scott.
And it lets them know that they can make a difference in their community and in their school environment.”
Hill agreed, noting that when Scott suggested socktober, the students quickly became enthusiastic about the idea.
“The kids were like, ‘oh, it’s so cold outside and there’s so many people who don’t have homes,’” Hill said. “It has helped open their eyes that there are people out there who are less fortunate then we are.”
Sally Sousa said that besides encouraging a spirit of generosity, having the students lead and develop the ideas themselves makes them more deeply engage.
It helps them become more well-rounded citizens, not just knowing about issues but doing something about it.
“That’s the key: [It inspires them to] be that next generation that knows that the world has problems, but not just shrug your shoulders and go ‘oh well,’ but to actually get your hands dirty and help,” Sousa said.
Sousa says it’s been great to see students growing a concern for others, and they hope to build on that in the future to help with a global issue as well, such as a 30 hour famine.