The wonderful students of Tahayghen

  • Dec. 22, 2006 5:00 a.m.

by submitted by Steve Bentley, Principal-Christmas has come and gone and I look around me at all the sadness and misery in the world. I often feel somewhat dismal about the way our world seems to be imploding with war, starvation, disease, famine, and genocide. I am frustrated by the inability of our leaders in politics to look beyond the immediate economic gains and territorialism that seems to trap their outmoded thinking in the past.
Everyday the news of the world seems to worsen and I have great concerns for the future of the children of this world. Around me I see family’s tearing apart and the inevitable disillusionment of our young people as they encounter violence, depression, and substance abuse. The whole atmosphere at times seems so oppressive – so hopeless.
And then I come to work and I get the joy and the honour of working with the children attending Tahayghen Elementary School.
Every Friday, well almost every Friday we have tried to instill some fun in our learning by having a day that includes humour and happiness, some activity that allows the students to be self expressive and just a little bit ‘off the wall.’
What do I mean by this, well consider just a few of our FUN FRIDAYS – Crazy Hat day, Crazy Hair Day, Pajama Day, and the list goes on.
How this works is very simple, we have divided the students into our school into House Teams – this was done randomly. Each House Team is named after a river on the island so we have; Yakoun, Hiellen, Sangan, and Chown ( I think you will see parallels in the movies!). The students compete as teams to earn points to gain a prize at the end of the year with First place obviously winning the best prize – although in truth the distinctions between the prizes may not be that different at the end of the year!
So the object of the exercise was to win something for your team and yourself, but that has all changed with our latest competition.
Now something has changed in the minds of our students because this competition is not about themselves or what they can gain, but what they can do for others. In discussion with several staff members at Tahayghen it was proposed to the students that perhaps this competition could be about doing something for others. The students literally took this idea and ‘ran’ with it. Now this is a school where there is a great deal of cooperation and support amongst students and they strive regularly to help others.
A good example of this is Ms. Holmes-Saltzman’s Division Four Class’s weekly Bake Sale to raise money for Najdeh in Lebanon, a non governmental organization working to help women and children – our students our donating their funds to a Pre-School Education program ( of course many moms and dads helped too!).
Just five days ago the competition began, the focus of this competition was to collect food for the local Food Bank. Realizing the time of year and the fact that we had Christmas coming we didn’t expect our students to gather more than one or two hundred food items. We sit here today with two collection days left and we have hundreds and hundreds of food items with more on the way.
Our children are demonstrating the very Christmas spirit that many of us seem to have forgotten or lost in this age of commercialism and economic gain – to care for your fellow man / woman. I must say that I am humbled by their kindness and a bit in awe of their generous nature, too often we focus on what our students cannot do – not on what they can do.
So let us take a lesson from our children, from their giving nature at this time of the year and follow their lead.
From my point of view as their Principal I can only say thank you to my students for renewing my faith in the giving nature of people.

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