Bodkin Students Look For The Good


At Bodkin Elementary, members of the Fifth-Grade Leadership Council helped launch the school’s own Look for the Good campaign.

The nonprofit’s mission statement is to “create school programs and awareness campaigns around the core belief that gratitude changes mindsets, reduces violence and improves everything.” Schools receive kits with “gratitude spots,” kindness cards and instructions for a gratitude wall and You Matter letters.

The gratitude spots are placed on the floor, and when stood on, you either have to say or think something you are grateful for. Kindness cards are passed to those who are caught doing an act of kindness. The gratitude wall grows bigger every day as students and staff write something they are grateful for on a Post-It note to put on the wall. Each student is required to write a You Matter letter to someone they are grateful for and read it aloud to that person before the end of the two-week campaign.

“The thing I’m most excited about is probably the gratitude wall,” said Ryan Kaveney, a member of the leadership council. “We’ll be getting to read what people are grateful for, and everybody else will, too, because it’ll be in the lunchroom, not in an individual part of the school.”

Kathy Hart, a special education teacher at Bodkin, has guided the student-led project. She said that roughly 6,000 Post-It notes will cover the gratitude wall at the end of the campaign.

Leadership council member Liz Forman said she is most excited for the You Matter letter. She plans to write hers to her mom.

“It gives a chance for you to express your feelings to someone that you don’t know how to show you’re grateful, but with a letter, you can,” Liz said.

The gratitude spots are the most interesting aspect for Ava Wille, who is also on the leadership council.

“Sometimes people don’t always show that they’re grateful,” Ava said. “[With] the spot, you can hear what other people are grateful for, and you get a chance, not just on Thanksgiving, to express what you’re thankful for on any day.”

Maggie Cochran agreed that it is important to show gratitude on days other than Thanksgiving.

“You forget to say ‘thank you’ to your mom or dad if they make you breakfast or if they make you dinner,” said Maggie, who is on the leadership council. “Now, you can say it every day without having to think [or] forget about it.”

The leadership council has a spot team that will decide where in the school to place the spots. The fifth-graders brainstormed places and want to make sure they are in high-traffic areas so that “all of us get a chance to step on it.”

Jeffrey Paul, who is on the leadership council, said the Look for the Good project has the potential to change the way the school works.

“It can have a huge affect because, say this whole Look for the Good thing hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have had a chance to express what we’re thankful for whenever we want to,” Jeffrey said.

Rachel Amstutz, the principal of Bodkin Elementary, said she hopes students understand that being nice matters and that it’s the right time to focus on kindness and gratitude.

“My biggest hope is that we embrace an understanding that our interactions with each other really matter,” Amstutz said. “Being nice matters. That’s a huge strategy we can use to change the culture of a school, of a community, of a family, of our world.”


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