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Love Students, Staff Focus On Relationships, Friendships To Start School Year

Love School Principal Cindy Johnson looks at a student’s “Rainbow of Friends” project outside their classroom. Below, Last school year, students at Love School traced and colored their hands to demonstrate the school’s diversity.

It’s been said that a picture can paint a thousand words — but at S.G. Love Elementary School, approximately 300 hand tracings can tell you just how much the students and staff in this learning community value the importance of friendships and relationships.

Both have been the focal point of the beginning of the 2023-24 school year with one project dating back to last June thanks to a collaboration with the Jamestown Juneteenth Committee: “The Colors of Love” tasked each student from universal pre-kindergarten to fourth grade to trace their hand. A local print shop scanned each child’s handprints — Black, white, and brown hands alike — into a heart-shaped design to bring the vision to life.

“The banner was unveiled by a group of enthusiastic Love School students at the Jamestown Juneteenth Celebration back in June and now hangs just beyond our front entrance,” said Love Principal Cindy Johnson. “I thought it was a great way for our students to be able to celebrate our school’s diversity.”

Additionally, the school also choses a word of the month — to start the school year, “Relationships” was intentionally chosen as the first word

“Relationships are so important because they are the foundation with which we build upon throughout the year,” Johnson said, crediting her faculty and staff who “work in partnership with each other to create and nurture relationships with all students and their families.”

“We at Love School endeavor to create a school community where children and families are valued,” Johnson said. “Relationships enable us to create an environment where all students are respectful, responsible and safe, without relationships, this would not be possible. The relationships we have built are integral to the success of our students, school and community.”

In the first grade hallway, students in Tammi Sullivan’s class took this new word to heart, focusing on friendships as part of a new unit within the Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt “Into Reading” curriculum, adopted by the district last year.

“The first module is ‘Nice to Meet You’ and relates to friendships – how to make new friends, what makes a good friend, what we do with friends, different types of friends they can have, and what makes each person special,” Sullivan said.

The story chosen to best exemplify this mantra was titled “Rainbow of Friends” by P.K. Hallinan.

“The book reminds children to celebrate their differences and diversity, because that is what makes each of us so special,” Sullivan said.

Students also participated in a coloring and writing project, where they were asked to write how they are a friend to others.

“I’m a friend when I share,” said Zevontae. “I drew a picture of my friend Iyanna and I sharing toys!”

“I’m a friend when I have my friends over for a sleepover,” said Iyanna.

“I’m a friend I can play together with my friends,” wrote Troy.

The culminating activity included a “rainbow day” — students across the first grade were asked to wear colors of the rainbow and took a picture outside the front of the school as a “rainbow of friends.”

“The people we colored showcase our different skin colors and the writing project listed ways we can be friends,” Sullivan said. “By tying everything together, we hope the students recognize their similarities and differences to build new, long-lasting friendships with their peers!”

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