Math teacher Carrie Adii, left, donated at the MHS blood drive last Friday. Pictured center is student Alexis Cain. (Photo by Kaylee Sullivan)

In true holiday spirit, the youngest Milton students are learning what it means to be kind and thankful.

A couple tiers up the food chain, middle- and high-schoolers are putting those lessons to the test, while fundraising for the local food shelf, giving blood and baking pies.

Showing kindness, thanks

Last Friday, four Milton elementary students trickled into the front office, ready to proclaim something special to the whole school: What are you thankful for?

Each student practiced their answers with classroom teachers after a short lesson on what it means to be thankful for the things and people in your life, grades 3-5 principal Bridget Gagne said.

“I’m thankful for my family and my house,” Connor Newton said over the loudspeaker, kicking off a special segment on the morning announcements.

Tanner Rouse and Caroline Trieb followed, expressing gratitude for their families and teachers.

Last up, Mark Beaudoin continued the trend: “I’m thankful for my family, and I’m thankful for the whole planet earth,” he said. “We’ve really been trying to focus on positivity and being kind, and what we can do for one another,” Gagne said. “Being thankful is something a lot of people end up talking about, but I wanted to create a way for kids to [spread] what they are thankful for.”

Minutes later, the students journeyed to the gymnasium, packing the bleachers beside their pre-K to grade 5 peers. On the floor, 10 fourth-graders looked at the crowd, ready to host the school-wide presentation on what it means to “bee kind.”

The motto is one of three behavior expectations through the school’s revamped Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system.

“‘Bee kind’ means I will take care of myself, I will take care of others, I will take care of my school,” fourth-grader Aubrie Quintin said.

She introduced a video she and her classmates compiled, showcasing the kind deeds they witnessed around school the week prior.

The fourth-graders identified eight ways to ‘bee kind’: Include others in an activity, check to see if someone’s OK, give a compliment, share, help others in class, hold the door, share material with absent

classmates and be an “upstander” rather than a bystander. Students received a “kindness card” for the kind acts they committed.

Using video, students — with the help of their teachers — set out to capture these acts, or recreate them for visual purposes. They showed the five-minute video at Friday’s assembly.

Snapshots of kids tying each other’s shoes, helping their teachers clean up, mopping the cafeteria floor, peeling a banana for a friend and aiding an elder with the copy machine projected on the gym wall.

The kid-driven presentation is part of a school-wide initiative to celebrate student achievements and promote leadership. It also creates a creative alternative to classroom curriculum, Milton elementary assistant principal Angela Filion said.

By the end of the year, each grade will hone in on a motto and present it school-wide, Filion said.

Eye on the pies

At the middle school, a group of about 20 students took to the kitchen last week to bake 185 pies for community members, the school’s annual fundraiser for the eigth-grade trip to Boston.

Middle-schoolers pre-sell pumpkin and apple pies for $15 each.

It costs each student $350 to attend, and each pie they sell goes straight to his or her individual field trip account. Fundraising starts in sixth grade.

Teacher Joe Smith said this year’s group sold more pies than the previous year. Students who wished to earn more money headed to the kitchen to aid food service director Steve Marinelli and food service worker Keely Agan with food prep. 

“For students who do work for it, it’s a little bit more of a special trip because they’ve earned it themselves,” Smith said.

Plus, kids benefit from seeing what a kitchen and food service are like while also building community, Smith added.

The giving spirit

Down the road at Milton High School, students, faculty and community members laid on cots, arms extended and ready to donate blood.

A total of 48 people were signed up to donate that day, including National Honor Society adviser Carrie Adii.

Adii sat across from student and fellow donator Jessica Wells as she explained the school’s goal to collect at least 34 units of blood.

MHS students pose next their food drive haul. (Courtesy photo)

The school has organized a blood drive onsite for more than 15 years, Adii said. MHS plans the food and blood drives the week before Thanksgiving every year now “as a way of giving back to the community,” she said.

This year, the Milton Family Community Center is looking to collect food for 300 families, Adii said. MHS gathered enough for 42 families, as well as some extra supplies to add to MFCC’s shelves.

Each teacher advisory in the school “adopted a family” through MFCC, purchasing ingredients from the family’s wish list. Usually, this includes a $10 or $15 gift card for a turkey, along with sides like stuffing and gravy, Adii explained.

“It’s nice that it stays in our community, so they feel like they’re helping a friend or a neighbor,” Adii said of her students. “There is definitely a sense of pride. And at the end of the day, when we have all the food [bagged,] they can just see how much we’ve done.”

For the young students who can’t afford to donate food, Adii said giving blood is a good alternative.

“If you don’t have the financial means, but you’re of healthy body, you can give back,” Adii said. “Also for some people, it’s a personal thing, like if they’ve had a family member that’s needed a blood transfusion.”

At a recent NHS meeting, Adii said a Red Cross worker told personal stories on how blood donations have positively affected her family and others.

“It’s a concrete way to know you’re helping,” Adii said.