Teresta Bolo’s fourth grade class at Central Elementary in Hastings has lots of discussions on being respectful, responsibility, paying attention to how others are feeling and how they treat others.
When the students see someone who looks “down” they act on it, showing them kindness by smiling at them, saying hello, or even leaving a short, positive friendship letter in their desk, often unsigned. “It’s about the power of appreciation, part of the children looking at the wider world,” Bolo said.
When discussing unrecognized kindnesses, a student mentioned Sergeant Kris Miller of the Hastings Police Department and all he does at their school and in the community. Other students who know Miller added their stories about him from personal contact or from interactions at school, Bolo said.
“Each of the comments and stories had one thing in common,” she said. “They were all positive.”
Students talked about Miller’s friendly, respectful nature, willingness to help them solve problems and his ability to make each of them feel special and safe. Some noted the stickers and popsicles that he shares with kids.
They decided to reach out to Miller and write letters to thank him, to let him know how appreciated he is. Recognizing the importance of positive thinking, they also created motivational posters, Bolo said.
Proving that nine and ten year olds appreciate a joke, they also brought Miller a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Last week, they walked from Central Elementary to the police department and gave the letters and posters to a surprised Miller.
He accepted the letters and posters, smiling and thanking each student, even agreeing with the students that police officers, “do like donuts.”
Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt said the children’s mission was accomplished; Miller said the children’s recognition, “really made my day,” and lifted his spirits.
The children were surprised themselves when Miller came to the classroom the next day with a box of cookies to show them how much their thoughts and gifts meant to him. They were delighted to learn that when you do something nice for others, nice things can come back to you.
Photos: (top left): Marisa Hilton hands Sergeant Miller her letter. Kaylin Schild, Rachael Hewitt, Xavier Thomas, Nicholas Kane and Makaila Hawkins look on.
(top right): Xavier Thomas hold the class poster to be put on Sergeant Miller’s office door. Makaila Hawkins, Nicholas Kane, Karsyn Argo are seen in the front.
(bottom right): Rachael Hewitt and Alan Li receive their coins from Chief Jeff Pratt.
(bottom left): Ariana Beard reads her motivational poster, as Jordan Milanowski and Gage Holtrust look on.