Story by Sara Paul
Eleven year olds Alexiss Carmack and Alyana Pecorilli did not participate in school recess for more than six days. While one might posit that the Golden Hill Elementary School gal pals were being punished for misbehaving, quite the contrary is true.
The do-gooding duo made the choice themselves to sacrifice their fun, free time to pursue a plight of positivity and inspiration. The finished products of their artistic sessions, totaling approximately seven hours, were 400 pencils with hand-markered messages the girls had carefully written on each one.
The brand new lead Number Two pencils contained inspiring phrases that urged beholders to – “Be Loving,” “Be Positive,” and “Be a Leader,” to name just a few.
Every student and almost every teacher at the mountain-view school on Round Hill Rd. in Florida NY was presented with a pencil, a delivery day that was perhaps the best aspect of the project.
“It felt so good when we passed them out. I felt like the queen of the world!” said Alyana, a Florida, NY resident.
Utterly proud of her students, Principal Debbi Lisack beamed, “These girls were determined to go above and beyond…This project came from their hearts…They were determined and they did it!”
As the school celebrated Kindness Initiative Month in February, Alexiss and Alyana first created inspiring posters splashed with caring quotes and then asked Principal Lisack what other activities they could take part in.
“We thought this would be a nice idea, especially for younger kids who are having trouble in school. We hoped the pencils could make them feel good about themselves and not care about what others are saying,” said Alexiss, who also lives in Florida.
Alyana added that she wanted to “inspire kids to always be kind to people and never to be mean.”
Some of their favorite inspiring inscriptions include “You’re Amazing,” “Don’t Give Up,” and “Shine Bright.”
One staff member has a favorite as well. Second grade teacher Sandy Correa displays her pencil prominently on her desk, so that every day she can take in the encouraging affirmation: “You Shine Like a Star.”
“I really needed to read those words on the day the girls gave this to me, and when I’m having a tough time, those words really help,” said Mrs. Correa, who also used the gifts as a teaching moment for her students.
“I don’t believe in coincidences, so I asked that students reflect on the messages that were meant for them to read and take in. I asked them not to trade with each other… and I think the students really understood the importance of what was written,” she said.
“We are fostering the positive, social-emotional growth of our students. Kindness matters!” exclaimed Principal Lisack, a 13 year veteran of the school, where she has been principal for three years.
As for the thoughtful young pair’s next motivational undertaking, Alexiss, an avid softball player, and Alyana, a future doctor or veterinarian, are planning an “Appreciation Station” at Golden Hill. The voluntary pilot program for fifth graders will include a table where students can write messages to their teachers on cut out triangles.
With school hallways already drenched in positive posters and hope-filled paper hearts, Principal Lisack firmly reminds, “You really don’t know how much you can affect someone else.”