Kids show compassion with poetry

Poetry that two classes at Columbus Elementary School read to the school during assemblies Thursday focused on the meaning of compassion. But it was the way the students of different ages and abilities collaborated to put on the show that provided the real example of compassion, some said.

Sixth-graders in Gail Dunham’s class and first-, second- and third-graders in Sheila Monger’s class for students with special needs presented a program featuring student-written poems about compassion, which is the word of the month for the Glendale Character and Ethics Project. The Character and Ethics Project is a citywide initiative to foster ethical values among all residents. Students also recited poems about reading comprehension, which is the school’s area of concentration within the districtwide Focus on Results initiative.

“I want you to see the compassion that took place today,” Columbus Principal Beatriz Bautista said. “We have sixth-graders who are helping primary students be up here. That is true compassion.”

The poetry recital was part of this month’s flag assembly, which Dunham’s students organized and directed.

Dunham’s students and Monger’s students had rehearsed their show together over the last two weeks. Dunham’s students wrote the poems, selected the ones they thought were the best and recited the verses from memory during the assembly. Monger’s students interpreted the poems using sign language and recited in unison some of the lines of poetry.

The students recited, “What is Compassion?” a poem co-written by Jacqueline Hernandez and Arianna Solis, both 11.

“Compassion is understanding other people’s needs, even if the needs are hard to meet; Compassion can’t be beat.”

Annabel Moradkhani, 11, had two of her poems read aloud by her classmates.

“Having to see you suffer like that, that is when we show compassion. That is when I realize we have to change the world we live in,” the students recited.

The students also sang along to a song about compassion that had been suggested by Jeremy Peña, a third-grader in Monger’s class, and they did the school cheer.

Monger said sixth-graders from Dunham’s class regularly serve as guest readers in her class.

The connection with the sixth-graders is a way for older peers to model appropriate behavior for younger students, Monger said.

“Nothing I say is as important as what their friends can say,” Monger said.

Dunham’s students were pleased with the outcome of their weeks of work.

“It was great,” said Rima Sahakyan, 11, one of the student-directors of the assembly.

“The best thing about it was that the principal liked it.”

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