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“C” is for Cookie – and Character

Bon Air Elementary students are getting a taste of a new character education program – through baked goods. While the program isn’t set to officially launch until February, the students are working on the positive character attribute of “Giving” by participating in Cookies for the Troops. First grade teacher Jessi Yates is spearheading the cookie project. A distant relative is serving as a U.S. Army commander in Afghanistan, and asked his family to send cookies to his soldiers.

“A lot of these guys are young and single, and this is their first deployment. Sadly, some of them don’t get a lot of mail,” Mrs. Yates said. “Morale gets pretty low. We are trying to send a little bit of home to them for the holidays and hopefully brighten some spirits.”

She sent home a letter with Bon Air students asking each family to bake a dozen of cookies to send to the troops in Afghanistan. She collected a total of 316 dozen cookies! “This is an opportunity for our students to understand giving this holiday season, and that there are people who don’t get to share in all of the holiday festivities we take for granted,” Mrs. Yates said.

Students also made holiday cards in class to send with the cookies. The student councils at Bon Air and Stewart schools donated approximately $200 to cover the cost of shipping the baked goods to Afghanistan. Commander Ryan Bruner, Mrs. Yates’ relative, will take pictures of the troops opening the packages, and will share the pictures with Bon Air so that the students will see who their generosity is benefitting.

The lesson of giving is being reinforced by helping people a little closer to home, too. Justin Miller and Steve White, who are the elementary student council sponsors and physical education teachers, brought a “Toys for Tots” drive to the schools. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program collects new toys and delivers them to local needy children during the holidays.

With two weeks left in the toy drive, students have filled four large boxes with donations. “I’ve heard from parents that some of these students are spending their own money for toys to be donated,” Mr. Miller said. “This program is really making the kids think of others and pay it forward.” Elementary Guidance Counselor Denise Schrock is pleased to see the students participating in such positive, character-building projects. “Our hope is that these character traits will be instilled in our children throughout their lifetime,” she said.

The character education program will be formally introduced in February, and will be presented beginning in September for the next school year by grade level teachers and specialists. Each month, there will be a focus on a different character trait, such as responsibility, honesty, cooperation, and respect.

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