Fifth Graders Learn Through Giving

Portions of this article contributed by Jessica Pomeroy, Fifth Grade Teacher

This spring, a small group of dedicated fifth graders worked together to organize a donations drive for 
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Organizers Diya Bhatia ’22, Hyeri Chun ’22, Emma Lagana ’22, Sunaya
 Mueller ’22, Naz and Nehir Ozden ’22, and Sophia Seriale ’22 started by inviting classmates to donate gently used toys and books for resale. During their recess periods and after school, they sorted the materials, put prices on them, and created flyers advertising the sale. Since they thought most of the items would appeal to younger students, they decided that the sale would be for students in kindergarten and first 
& second grades.

The effort was the brainchild of Emma Lagana, who says the idea of helping children at St. Jude came to her last Christmas when she was reflecting on how fortunate she is. She pitched the idea to the other fifth graders, who decided they wanted to help. The event ultimately raised more than $500. She says, “The day of the sale, I felt really excited and nervous. During the entire process, I learned how to work with a group and how to keep organized. Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m glad that we helped St. Jude!”

A natural outcome from this effort was the realization that the eight traits that D-E has identified for non-cognitive assessment — engagement, perseverance, risk-taking, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, daily preparation, and organization — can motivate and nurture constructive learning skills!

The students had to organize the materials that were brought in over several days. They had to collaborate with each other in terms of pricing the materials, setting up the sale tables, and deciding who was going to work the sale tables and when. Also, the students had to persevere. When at first it seemed like there were not enough materials donated to even have the sale, the students repeatedly appealed to their peers to keep on donating. They didn’t want to give up on their idea of raising money for others.

It was a great process for the students to think of a way to give back to the community and see it through to completion. It was also heartwarming to see these students deal with potential challenges in a constructive way. In the end, it was clear that their project was fulfilling, and this made them quite proud as well as clearly very happy.

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