ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the crazy and confusing world that teeters around him, an eighth grader contemplated the miracle of a bowl of cereal.
“He started thinking about how cereal comes to exist, how it requires the farmers to grow the crops that become the grain in the cereal,” said Priscilla Del Aguila, his teacher at eCademyK8, Albuquerque Public Schools’ online magnet school. “He started thinking about who is keeping the world going.”
That’s quite a lesson.
Del Aguila said she thought it was one that should be expanded upon with all the eighth-grade students in her virtual homeroom.
She threw out the idea to the 21 students in November, asking them to come up with a way they could collaborate on a project that considered the workers of their world.
What they came up with was writing thank you notes to essential workers who even in these dangerous times of pandemic and pandemonium keep the world going.
They came up with seven categories of workers – medical care, sanitation, mail, fire, farmers, scientists and grocery store employees – and divided up into groups of three, spending a few minutes each school day for two months to connect virtually via Google Meet to discuss their categories and to craft their notes of gratitude.
The results were not only a deeper understanding and appreciation for those who keep the world going but a connection to each other in these days of isolation and anomaly.
“Eighth graders don’t like to talk about what they’re thinking, and this helped bring them out of themselves,” Del Aguila said. “Virtual schooling has been difficult for most students, especially in the realm of connecting with each other. This project was very meaningful because students really worked together to create these thank you letters. They put their heart and soul into these and I would love for them to be read by our community.”
And so I turn the rest of the column over to them (with some minor editing and condensing).
To the farmers: “I hope are doing good with the virus around. Anyways, thank you for picking crops and growing them so that I can have my tomatoes, corn, vegetables and also some potatoes with my beans. … You have a very big meaning to us because you can end humanity because most food comes from you. You pick the cotton for our clothes, you pick the vegetables for my health, you pick the grain for my cereal, you take care of the cows for my burgers, you help everyone. Thank you and I hope you all have a great next year.” – Dylan Garret, Josiah McDaniel, Vicente Ordaz
To the grocery workers: “… We appreciate how you are going to work every day and risking your lives to help people get food and other essential items. Thank you for also being strong during this difficult time. We realize that many of you have families to worry about and appreciate your sacrifices to help maintain access to food and other essentials we all took for granted before the pandemic. Your dedication has helped our families stay fed and has helped renew our faith in humanity. We know it is hard, but we believe if we all stay strong, vigilant and willing to help each other, we will all get through this.” – Sofia Wood, Lillian Wood, Sophia Martinez
To the sanitation workers: “… You have done your best to keep everything sanitized and clean and this has affected us because it has helped to give us a sense of safety when going outside to go shopping or traveling. We encourage you to keep working at your jobs because you have allowed us to even leave our houses without worrying about catching coronavirus and just disease in general.” – Mason Woods, Orion Hopkins, Anthony Tewahaftwea
To the medical workers: “You all truly affect our lives, you keep the world going and you’re brave enough to do what others can’t. Even before this COVID-19 was a thing, you made sure we were healthy and strong. All of us in this world are hoping you guys are doing safe and we also want you to be strong and be able to be focused, too. Lastly we want to thank you, we appreciate you and all that you have done, stay strong and stay healthy.” – Lia, Gisele, Gabriella
To the scientists: “… We are so grateful for all that you have done, for making new medicines, fighting climate change and so much more. Without you scientists and the medicines you have made I may have not gotten better from an upper respiratory infection I had. Thank you again for trying your best to help people with medicines and other things, keep working hard, you’re very important to everyone even when they don’t realize it. Well, you probably don’t have that much time so this will be it, but we hope you have a great day and keep working hard.” – Aryanna, Angelique, April
To the postal workers: “Thank you for delivering mail to everyone during this pandemic. It is hard to believe that you are still doing this while trying to be safe and not get the COVID. It is amazing that you are still working to help people out by delivering their mail. Once again thank you for putting yourself out there to make sure people get their mail. It is something that many people don’t realize what an amazing thing you are doing.” – Stephen, Dylan, Diego
To the firefighters: “… If it were not for you firefighters, trees, houses, cities and maybe hiking trails would still be burning and creating smoke. If you firefighters did not put out the fire, soon we would be breathing in the ashes or burnt wood and a lot of us would have been still dying if it were not for the firefighters. … Even though the fire is hot and there’s smoke in the air, you guys put that aside and save the people who are trapped in there. If you guys keep on doing what you’re doing, then other people might want to be you guys in the future. Therefore, you have taught all of us lessons with fire, how to put out a campfire, what to build with other than wood all the time, why we have smoke alarms and how to control the fire. … You firefighters are our heroes.” – Tyrell, Cameron, Derrick
Let us adults add our thanks for these people who keep our world, however crazy and confusing it is these days, going – and to these students who one day soon will do the same.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline at 730-2793, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.