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Patriot Perspective: Oh, and by the way, thank you

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward.

Recently, while walking the halls of the school, I was struck by the cleanliness of our high school. Nary a wrapper, broken pencil or well-chewed gum stuck to the floor or littered the halls, leading me to reflect on why I was struck by nothingness.

This cleanliness of the hallway over halfway through the day was remarkable in one respect few people will ever notice.

The day in the life of a school teacher is a whirlwind of activity, even more so for a principal. When we are busy, we do not often take time to reflect on our day and think about what makes the day a good one.

As parents, we are as busy after work as we are during the work day, running our children to activities and practices. Taking time to reflect is a luxury we often cannot afford.

Yet it was in a moment of rare silence in the hallway of the school that I found myself standing alone, reflecting. Had I ever said thank you to our students for their efforts to clean up after themselves? Had I ever said thank you to our custodial staff for working so hard to keep a clean and orderly environment?

If gratitude was felt but never shared, is it still gratitude?

Thinking of gratitude and entering the season of thankfulness, it seems only appropriate that we take a moment to offer a tribute to those who are deserving.

Thank you to the parent who packs a backpack with lunch and homework every morning and who eagerly tackles algebra, history and literature homework every night because you know it will matter in your child's life.

Thank you to the bus driver, cook, custodian, teacher, para who does their job every day to the best of their ability. When you do your job well, no one may notice, but it gives you great pride to know your service to the students matters. Parents of our community value the pride you take in a job well done.

Thank you to the local business member who offers their time to volunteer in a school career fair, interviewing a dozen students for an imaginary job. You may never hire one student, but the experience you give our students helps them to become better employees.

Thank you to the concerned citizen who calls the office when you notice suspicious behavior around the school because you care about the safety of the children. Your concern has created a sense of security that helps our students feel safe at school, an essential foundation of learning.

Thank you to the teacher who just spent the past three evenings grading papers, missing a few of their own child's activities, to ensure that their students receive meaningful feedback on their work. Your efforts create deeper thinkers who are reflective in their work.

Thank you to the food service worker who serves breakfast with a smile and a kind word every day because you know that may be the only kind word those students may hear in a day. You may be the very reason those kids make it through the day.

Thank you to the grandparent who knows that a little extra love will never spoil the child. Your influence on their lives is felt when they write their admiration essays and share the values taught in your home.

Thank you to the community member who buys three pizzas from a teenager at their door, knowing they could get them cheaper at the grocery store, because it will mean that student will get to experience a trip to South America. Your generosity has opened the minds of many young men and women to the possibilities of the world.

And thank you to the tireless souls who trek the halls of the school for every game, contest, concert and performance. Your support of our students has given them a greater sense of what it means to be a part of a community than any civics lesson will ever give them.

I hope you take a moment to offer your own thank yous to those who matter in your life. I hope you give the gift of gratitude for the efforts of others in your life. The rush of joy you experience when someone has done something extra for you because they knew it would make your day.

You felt the gratitude, you have wrapped your present; have you given it?

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