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A focus on friendship, not candy

KATHRYN CORAZZELLI
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS

This Valentine’s Day, Silverthorne Elementary students will forgo the traditional conversation hearts and Hershey’s kisses for something a little bit sweeter: friendship. Friendship Day will be celebrated Feb. 14 – instead of Valentine’s Day – by filling fellow students’ buckets with kind words and healthy snacks.

“Its a really good way to help kids understand how important it is that we be respectful,” said Silverthorne Elementary Principal Dianna Hulbert.

On Friendship Day, students will exchange positive cards about each other and place them in buckets decorated in class. Teachers will provide cards to their students to fill out.

“I love your enthusiasm. You are kind and nice,” Hulbert said one student wrote.

Children are also encouraged to bring in a healthy snack – like strawberries or yogurt – to eat during the celebration.

The idea came about through a book several classrooms have been reading called “Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids” by Carol McCloud. The book encourages positive behavior and the daily expression of kindness, appreciation and love. Bucket-filling is used as a metaphor for understanding the effects words have on others.

Hulbert said the school’s wellness team – a group of parents and teachers who work to improve children’s health and environment at the school – agreed upon the idea of Friendship Day. She said they also implemented the heart-healthy snack plan to shift the day’s usual focus off candy.

Hulbert said Friendship Day will be more meaningful for the students than just handing out generic Spiderman cards.

“We’re making kids think about what they appreciate,” she said.

Hulbert said the day emphasizes a part of the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile, which is a long-term education vision set for schools.

Hulbert said feedback from teachers has been positive, and feedback from parents has been mostly positive.

“I didn’t know Valentine’s Day was such a bad thing they had to replace it,” said parent Michael Magliocchetti, who wrote a letter to the Daily last week critical of the Valentine’s Day replacement. “It seemed like one of those political moves; I just thought it was unnecessary.”

Hulbert said the diversity of the population did play a small part in the shift from Valentine’s Day.

Parent Maggie Butler said she really likes the theme of the day – and the healthy snacks idea – as long as the event wasn’t created for the sake of being politically correct.

“I’m all for it; I think it’s great,” said Butler. “As long as we’re not politically overprotecting ourselves, it’s more important to promote healthy friendships as opposed to some premature Disney romance.”

Hulbert said she hopes the friendship buckets will follow children through the year – and the grades – to remind kids that everyone’s bucket needs to be filled every day.

“We just really want to make every day Friendship Day,” she said.


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