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Enterprise Journal

“Everything I need to know, I learned from my heroes”

Oct 07, 2020 10:02AM ● By Savannah Howe

First grader Jordan Myhre shows off his HERO key chain. EJ Photo/Savannah Howe

St. Ansgar Elementary School’s tokens of gratitude to essential workers

In the St. Ansgar Elementary School, first grader Eleanor Schulmeister concentrates as she threads a small bead onto her unfinished key chain. 

These key chains will soon be handed out to local essential workers, as the elementary school's way of saying ‘thank you’ for working through the COVID pandemic. EJ Photo/Savannah Howe

The key chain, Schulmeister’s proud work in progress, says HER at that moment, but she is only three quarters of the way finished; once complete, her key chain will say HERO, and will join dozens and dozens like it that will be handed out to local essential workers. 

The key chain projects are part of the elementary school’s 2020-2021 school-wide theme: “Everything we need to know, we learned from our heroes.” Each year, the school chooses a theme for grades from preschool through fifth to participate in, as a way to encourage a positive school culture and engagement; this year’s hero theme seemed an easy fit to the school’s staff, according to counselor Kim Brackey. 

First grade instructor Mrs. Haaland guides students Blake Horgen, Jordan Myhre and Bentley Huffman through their key chain projects. EJ Photo/Savannah Howe

“Our theme was decided upon due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Brackey. “Staff discussed the role of our essential workers during the pandemic and how they sacrificed and did all they could to keep our communities going.”

In turn, the student body is working to honor their local superheroes, from clinic staff to area fire departments. The classes have been working on their HERO key chains and thank-you cards for their local essential worker of choice: the first grade chose the fire departments, and the second graders opted for local health care workers. While the students may not get to participate in delivering the key chains this year, first grade teacher Lori Haaland said that the elementary students have been eagerly working on their projects for their local heroes.

First grader Eleanor Schulmeister pictured with her HERO key chain. EJ Photo/Savannah Howe

Brackey explained that the students are also documenting their classmates’ acts of kindness as part of the program; when a student notices a peer doing something kind, their name and good deed is recorded on a little paper superhero and put on the school’s theme wall. Once a month, four superheroes are picked off the wall at random and awarded prizes. She noted that the program has initiated a sense of selflessness in many of the students, and done positive things for the culture and morale overall in the student body.

“It’s amazing how they’ve started noticing each other,” said Brackey, who described an instance of a fifth grader nominating a younger peer who holds the door open for her classmates. “You would think they’d want to be nominated themselves, and only talk about all the good things they’ve been doing, but they’ve really focused on their classmates.”

The elementary school’s theme this year is “Everything I need to know, I learned from my heroes.” When a student notices a classmate doing something kind, they nominate their peer to be put on the hero wall. EJ Photo/Savannah Howe

The keychains and cards will soon be delivered to the staff at the St. Ansgar Clinic, and the St. Ansgar, Stacyville and Grafton fire departments, who have all been deemed superheroes in the eyes of the young students watching them.

This card from STA second grader Abbi Franzen is for the STA clinic staff. Thanks for keeping us alive, STA clinic! EJ Photo/Savannah Howe