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The Oldest and Wisest Share Their Learning

Posted on May 13th, 2016

I often refer to our fourth graders as the oldest and wisest students in the Lower School. They assume special leadership responsibilities such as being on the Safety Patrol, partnering with first graders for special activities and chapels, serving as acolytes and readers for our Lower School Chapel, and acting as role models for our younger students. The fourth grade Citizenship Breakfast highlighted and celebrated the importance of helping others and being supportive members of a community.

Recently, our fourth graders traveled to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. For more than seventy years, Heifer International has been involved in lifting families out of poverty in 125 countries. The sad reality is that over one billion people around the world still live in extreme poverty. Heifer works with people and organizations to create awareness and encourage change for those less fortunate. The class trip was more than an overnight camping experience. It was a journey to experience how “the rest of the world lives” and more importantly determine a response to this discovery. The class of 2020 demonstrated sensitivity, awareness, and empathy during the various activities connected to poverty. It would be difficult to visit Heifer Ranch without being moved, without having a deeper connection to the effects of poverty, without being more grateful for the life one has been given. But then, don’t take my word for it. Here is a sampling of student responses when given the prompt, “What is one thing you learned, or will remember from the Heifer trip?”:

“I need to keep in mind that we have it better than 99% of the world.”

“I was able to sleep next to a farm with mooing cows.”

“I learned that even people in America are in poverty.”

“School is a privilege, not a right.”

“Half the world can’t choose what they want.”

“I will remember this question if there is enough food for all, why don’t all have enough food?”

“There are people that need our help, and we can help them if we choose to.”

“I will remember how hard it is to be in poverty.”

“Not everyone in the world has what we do.”

“Not everybody lives like we do, with food, water, and shelter.

“We are very lucky to have what we have, and we need to be grateful for it.”

“Some people live in tribal homes and don’t have all the cool stuff we have.”

“As Americans, we have an easy life.”

“I am fortunate because I have water, food, and a house.”

“I will remember being very hungry at Heifer Ranch.”

“It was hard to go to sleep and get the food you wanted. I can’t believe it happens to people every day.”

“Be thankful for what you have.”

The Heifer trip provided fourth graders with unique opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, to learn more about people who live in poverty and hunger, to grow in empathy and understanding of those less fortunate and to consider what they might do to help the world be a better place. I think the sentiment shared by one student summarizes the group’s trip to Heifer Ranch, but also reflects a sincere sense of gratitude, “We are some of the luckiest people in the world.”

As a tribute to the class of 2020, we have created a special video that captures some of the memories, thoughts, and wisdom of the fourth grade students as they reflect on their experiences in Lower School. Click here to view the video. Thanks to Jeff White for taking the time to use his creativity and his technological skills to produce this video.

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