Thanks from Ms. Makela

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – MLK

Songs of peace and love sung during music lessons have filled our halls this past month. It’s now stuck in my head! “What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” Arm in arm, we sang this song on the yard, Wednesday morning after the election. The divisiveness and darkness of this particular political landscape seems to have brought out the best and worst in people, stirring strong emotions. Our children are watching, keenly noticing everything but unable to really understand what it all means. They take their cues from the adults around them. They process uncertainty, fear, anger, etc. as best they can, often through play, but they’re young. We’ve wrestled with how to respond as a school, mindful that we have families represented on both sides of the political spectrum, mindful that discussions with elementary age children look very different from those with middle or high school age kids, mindful of the hurt and fear all too present for some and the need to model love and respect. Above all, children need to know that they’re loved and safe.

A thoughtful 6th grader pointed out in a morning class meeting that we need to “be the change we wish to see in the world” (Ghandi).  I think now is the time to talk about and act upon our values, at school and at home.

Our school truly values our community and the wonderful diversity found within it.  The timing of our International Night couldn’t have been more perfect!  We needed to come together as a community and to celebrate the variety of cultures that make us who we are. Do you know that we have people from all over the world at Madera, and at least 15 languages represented? Thank you to all who came out to make it such a special night and especially to those who helped to organize the event! Very special thanks to Meike Visel and Maia Bazjanac who coordinated it all!

We are focusing our efforts in the weeks ahead on kindness, respectfully and lovingly caring for one another. It is widely held (and probably no surprise) that traits such as gratitude, empathy, compassion and kindness foster well-being individually and relationally. Please join us in the coming weeks for the first annual Kindness Challenge, an idea born out of that 6th grade class meeting. Challenge yourself to random acts of kindness each day through 12/16. There are leaves in the office on which to post something you witnessed or did, or even a message of gratitude. Our hope is to fill the tree (our school and our community) with kindness.

As a school, we will collect food for the Contra Costa Food Bank and books for children at Bayview Elementary.  Barrels for food and boxes for books will be in the foyer. The Food Bank would especially like canned meat, fish and soup; iron-rich cereals; peanut butter, dried beans, rice or pasta, etc. All donations should be in non-breakable containers.

Ms. Ross’ class will be sponsoring a toy drive. More about that to come.

What might your family do? What small acts of kindness can be done each day? How might a conversation about this impact your dinner table conversations or our interactions as the adults in our children’s lives?  What if we did things in secret for one another? How might our school change with a kindness growing everywhere?

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart

I continue to be so very thankful to be a part of this wonderful school community. A very happy Thanksgiving to you all! May you especially enjoy this time, this year celebrating with family and friends.

Gratefully yours,