September 6, 2012

Friends’ School launches

We are very excited to announce The Gratitude Project in celebration of our 25th Anniversary.

Gratitude is a core value of our school. By making gratitude our focus for the year, we feel confident that we will be enriching the lives of all of our students, families, staff, alumni, and trustees by paying attention to what we are thankful for.

The Gratitude Project will involve everyone in our school community, from our three-year old preschoolers to the founders of our school.  From the day this school opened its doors back in 1987, through to today, the people of Friends' School have shared a goal of helping to raise children to be kind and compassionate, to be connected to their community, and to see the world through joyful eyes.  Because of the original vision of our founders, and all of the many teachers and parents who have been part of this school for the past 25 years, hundreds of children have gone on to middle school, high school, college, and beyond, and made a positive difference in their world.

The Gratitude Project is a multi-faceted endeavor that spans the breadth of our community and curriculum.

In our classrooms, we will emphasize gratitude in myriad ways. In the preschool, closing circle and golden moments will be times when children can voice what they are grateful for. Teachers will be creating class books and gratitude streamers; they talk to the children about “filling someone’s bucket” with kindness, and always sing thank you to families who bring snack.  In the elementary school, students will create gratitude journals, thank you cards, books, poems, music, and artwork.  Teachers have already found so many meaningful ways to integrate gratitude into the school day.

Our Gratitude Project team reached out to Dr. Bob Emmons, who is a leader in the science of gratitude and the author of the book Thanks!  He put us in touch with researchers Dr. Jeff Froh of Hofstra University and Dr. Giacomo Bono of California State University.  Friends’ School is partnering with Jeff and Giacomo on a study of the impact that our Gratitude Project will have on school culture. We are also collaborating with them on a curriculum for elementary students which other schools will be able to use.

We are profoundly thankful to the Boulder community for supporting the growth and success of Friends’ School over the years.  As our way of saying thank you, we are bringing Dr. Christine Carter to Boulder for an informative and entertaining evening on October 18. This will be open to our own community of parents and the general public.  Dr. Carter is a sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, an interdisciplinary research unit dedicated to the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being.  She is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. She will be talking on the topic of Gratitude, Attitude and Resilience.   

Dr. Carter’s first book, The Other Side of Silence, is, we are told, one of the most frequently stolen books out of university libraries. Dr. Carter has been quoted in Working Mother, American Baby and Parenting magazines, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and dozens of other publications. Her blog is syndicated on Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, and other websites. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Rachel Ray Morning Show, and NPR, and is a regular on ABC’s View from the Bay.  She is a talented and knowledgeable speaker and this will be a wonderful evening.  We will also host parent/teacher book club discussions on Raising Happiness before the event.
As part of The Gratitude Project, Friends’ School is also reaching out to all of our alumni and inviting them to be part of a formal Alumni Association which will begin to host regular events.  We are creating both a film and book project which will tell the story of our unique school.  We will create our own school Gratitude Wall and we continue to participate in time-honored Friends’ traditions such as our harvest celebration, delivering May Day baskets, and singing The Thank You Song, composed by our very own Diane Bramble.

I am grateful to be part of this special school and to be involved in such a dynamic and far-reaching undertaking as The Gratitude Project.  This feels like an important and meaningful way to celebrate Friends’ first 25 years.  We are looking forward to the next 25 with gratitude.

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