Penn-Delco: Students in service to one another
On Tuesday, January 22, the day after the holiday honoring the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., Sun Valley High School seniors fanned across the Penn-Delco elementary school community to lend a hand to their former alma maters and teachers. Dozens of students visited Aston, Coebourn, Parkside, and Pennell Elementary Schools with the goal of sharing their talents and time with their fellow Penn-Delco students. Many had the opportunity to visit former classrooms and teachers while being reminded of their own elementary school days.
Part of a larger plan for the Sun Valley PBiS team (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports), Principal Patrick Sasse was pleased with the result. “The day was a small part of a plan that our PBiS team is developing to have students at Sun Valley interact with each other and our surrounding community. Having our seniors go back to their elementary schools was a nice tie-in to the great work that thousands of other students and schools do in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day of Service.”
While the goal of PBiS is to establish a positive school climate, administrators felt that this opportunity to bring together students from different schools and grades would reinforce the spirit of the initiative. Students from the Valley interacted with teachers and elementary students in multiple ways: reading with students, participating in gym class, working on art projects, even spending lunch together.
Serve each other
Aston Elementary principal Susan Phillips was encouraged by the experience: “The Sun Valley students took time to talk with Aston students, eat lunch with them, and play with them during recess. They also had an opportunity to read to them and solve math problems too. The Aston students want to know if the Sun Valley students can come every day.”
Tara Young, Parkside Principal, recognizes the impact the day had on her school. “This day of service was a huge success. What a positive way to have our high school students serve as good role models for our elementary students! The teachers and I enjoyed seeing our former students who have grown into respectful and responsible young adults.”
Coming home to elementary school
Camren Johnston, a senior who hopes to attend college locally, enjoyed the opportunity to learn and connect with the younger students at Pennell Elementary. “We noticed how different gym class is from when we were younger,” he said. “And we noticed how the younger kids learn differently. It’s been fun offering advice and helping them set goals for school in the future.”
Camren’s new friend, second grader Lillyanna Fields, was part of a gym class and lunch break with the Sun Valley students. She loved discussing sports with Camren. A soccer and basketball player, Lillyanna thought it was awesome that Camren played baseball. “I can play sports at school when I get older!” she exclaimed.
Senior Nicole Papa loves to try new things and meet new people. She enjoyed hearing about the elementary students interests. “I’m considering education as a major. So, to spend time with young people and listen to them share what they enjoy has been a great experience.”
Papa’s experience seemed to mirror what most Sun Valley students reported from the day. “My students loved seeing their elementary teachers and working with the energetic young people,” said Sasse. “One student said he felt lucky that he got to sit in the “big chair” and read aloud to a classroom that included his younger cousin.”
That’s a positive, since Sasse hopes to continue the program in the future and involve many more high school students in the process. Josh Leight, principal at Pennell Elementary, would welcome them. “My students were excited to show the big kids around, ask questions, and share their life stories. The SVHS students’ kindness and dedication created a very special memory for these young students. It made my heart happy to seeing an incredible act of building relationships across the grade levels.”