A classroom discussion about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on others saw students in the Grade 8 class at Lawson Heights School share their feelings and support for others through words and art.
"As a class we have been discussing how the pandemic is affecting families and students locally and provincially," said teacher Jenn Kerr. "Students started sharing that many have parents currently working in health care. Many are seeing firsthand the stress our health-care workers are under and they are very aware of the impact it is having on us all."
The students chose to write letters of gratitude to staff working in health care, which were then photographed so they could be shared digitally.
"It was spontaneous," Kerr said. "Every student in my class has written letters and shared them with me digitally. They are exceptionally aware of how COVID is having a far-reaching effect. We all need to work together to protect one another."
"Dear Friend," one student wrote, "I know that nowadays health care workers are having much of a burden on them. With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases many health workers are getting infected. Thank you for keeping us safe. I can't even imagine how stressful work is for you know, as my parents are also health care workers. May you always keep smiling and stay safe."
Although the project started with letters, one student, Raghad, asked to submit artwork. Her first drawing is of a health-care worker wearing a mask and a crown; however, the eyes have tears in them.
"She told me health-care workers are royalty in her mind. The second drawing she did was of a health-care worker holding up the world under unimaginable pressures; in a sense saving the world."
A second writing project was inspired after a class discussion about recently announced restrictions regarding Christmas gatherings. Students discussed having to spend time only with those in their household, and then how there are many long-term care residents who are on their own. That sparked a decision to write letters and send art digitally to long-term care homes throughout the province.
"They all agreed those alone could benefit from knowing they are being thought of by this younger generation," Kerr added.
The class of 24 students, which has chosen the theme gratitude for school-wide virtual assemblies it will host during January, is very aware of how the pandemic is affecting themselves and others, Kerr said. That concern for other families and individuals has shaped their thinking and response to the pandemic.
"We all are challenged incredibly this year; however, I have been amazed at how passionate and positive these students are. We have many things we could complain about but that isn't helping anyone. They chose to come together to share a little love and appreciation."