Kindergarteners from Perkins and Lincoln schools recently joined 19 Newark High School students from the Putting Little Acts of Niceness Together Club in a day of making friendship bracelets.
Club members include ninth-graders Michaela Colacino, Morgan Hildreth, Leah Lockwood, Brooke Salerno, Brenna Stefanides and Tyhiera Streeter; sophomore Olivia Smith; 11th-graders Natalie Acquista, Kyle French, Elizabeth Lang, Katherine Paddock and Madeline Wetmore; and senior Logan Moynihan.
In one instance, students made bracelets for members of a kindergarten class that could not attend the full session.
Using beads, string and tiny rubber bands, PLANT members helped students craft bracelets and make memories. This was the club’s third “act of niceness” activity for the 2017-18 school year.
The club painted pumpkins in October that went to teachers as gifts of appreciation. Members served as Santa elves in December, and responded to letters from students at Perkins and Lincoln.
Acquista, club founder and president, said she was pleased at how enjoyable PLANT members and their new kindergarten friends found the bracelet-making activities.
“Two boys at Perkins School said they couldn’t wait to tell their moms that they had made bracelets with high school students,’’ she said. “I think the PLANT members really like it, too.’’
Acquista said the event was planned to help Newark kindergarteners commemorate National Kindergarten Day, which fell on a Saturday this year.
Matt Holland, NHS teacher assistant, serves as PLANT Club adviser.
“Overall, the day went well,” he said. “The high school students and elementary students seemed to love it. I received positive reviews from the kindergarten teachers with a request to do this again sometime. PLANT students all asked if we would be able to do the event again, and asked if we would be able to do something with all of the elementary grades in the future. This is something that I am looking into.
“I think it was important for our highest level students to interact and build relationships with our youngest level students. I believe that this will positively affect our students and our community.”
Robyn Ross-Squirrell, dean of students at NHS, Perkins and Lincoln, temporarily functions as principal at Lincoln while Stephanie Miller is on maternity leave.
“When Matt Holland approached me about having his club come to both Perkins and Lincoln to do something special with our kindergarten students, I didn’t bat an eye before saying yes,” she said. “This was a wonderful way to bring our school community together. This gave our little ones a chance to meet and talk to someone who they may see as a mentor. Our older students were given the chance to give back to the schools that helped mold them into who they are today, as well as make a positive impact on our youngest.”
PLANT members French and Salerno said the bracelet-making event was fun.
“I think it is making a great impact on these kindergarten pupils, and will help them not to be scared and feel welcome when they move up to the other schools,” French said.
Kindergartener Charles Webber was all smiles after he made a wonder loom bracelet and ring from tiny rubber bands with help from freshman Colacino.
“They loved it,’’ Colacino said. “They smile, and liked talking about how school is going. I liked talking with them to see what their points of view are.”
Colacino said she enjoys being a PLANT Club member and the little acts of kindness it did this year to make a difference.
As a treat for PLANT members, Ross-Squirrell bought soda and chips for them to enjoy with the pizzas purchased by Holland for their lunch break. Holland also purchased beads, string and rubber bands to go along with similar bracelet-making materials donated by NHS art teacher Amanda Kessler.