On September 11th, we held an assembly to remember those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

Last year the theme of the gathering was world peace. We believe that it is important to help the children understand ways in which they can make the world a better, safer, more peaceful planet. In our view, using the memorial of the tragic events of 2001 as a way to encourage our youngsters to be more tolerant, empathetic, and responsible citizens is the best way to honor the victims of terrorism. We were helping our students think globally.

The focus this year was on helping them think locally. I recounted an experience I had in Florida over the summer break. My mother is a senior citizen who attends adult day care in Fort Lauderdale. At the facility, the seniors engage in a number of activities, like games, arts and crafts, etc. It seemed quite nice, but, frankly, a little boring.

A friend and I arranged a series of sing-alongs at the day care center, singing songs ranging from 'American the Beautiful' to Elvis' 'Hound Dog,' from 'My Darlin' Clementine' to one of our students' favorites, 'High Hopes.' The seniors had a great time, and so did my friend, Nanette, and I, and the feeling during and after the singing was optimistic and joyful.

My point in telling this story to the kids was that it shows how easy it is to make a difference in the lives of people around us. I asked for ways that the students could make a small gesture that could have large consequences. The answers ranged from listening to a friend with a problem to walking the dog of someone who was sick, from helping a younger sibling with their homework to giving a compliment to a person. I was encouraged by their ideas, and I asked them to reflect on what we had talked about and be conscious of opportunities to do these small but significant things.

---Mr. John