At the Oakdale Elementary School here in Dedham, the students can see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” With less than a month remaining in the school year, students across the district are thinking about moving forward.
MCAS testing is now behind the group, the 5th grade students can't wait for Middle School and the 4th grade students are looking forward to becoming the senior class in September.
The children in grades 2 and 3 are continuing their climb up the ladder, fingers crossed for a specific teacher or group of friends to be with in the Fall.
The students in grade 1 are excited to take their next step, with a fresh group of new kids coming in to take their place.
For Principal Holli Armstrong and her staff however, the school year is not over until that 180th day. For the next few weeks, there are still lessons to be learned.
An important part of an Oakdale education, involves instilling a sense of community in these children. Throughout the school year, Ms. Armstrong, her teachers, and her students, take part in a number of charitable projects.
Since September, Ms. Armstrong has been preaching that “it takes a team, to make a community.” The students at Oakdale, take part in anti-bullying seminars, a Thanksgiving food drive, a Christmas toy drive, as well as helping out the Dedham Food Pantry and the Animal Rescue League.
The Spring tradition at Oakdale is called “A Random Act of Kindness.” The phrase, credited to a professor at Bakersfield College in California, is a perfect fit for the children at Oakdale.
On a given Friday in May, the students are urged to bring in some flowers from home. These flowers are collected at school and put together in small bouquets.
Ms. Armstrong holds an assembly in the afternoon, and all of the school's teachers and children attend. There, they discuss the “value” of this Random Act of Kindness.
The children are taught to realize, that it is important to be helpful and nice to others, without expecting anything in return. As the school bell rings to close the day, Principal Armstrong, a group of volunteer parents, and the 5th grade student council, load cars and deliver these bouquets to local nursing homes and hospitals.
The lucky recipients of this year's Random Act of Kindness, were the folks at the Golden Living Center on East St. Ms. Armstrong told us, that she and the children “got so many smiles, and so many thank you's, that it was all worthwhile.” She plans to continue this tradition at the school each year.