What happens when students have the agency to design a better world in Middle School? This question became a reality for a group of inspiring Grade 7 students who saw an opportunity to bring positivity to their school environment. In an impressive display of self-leadership, creativity, and grace, these students decided to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary by creating a prayer and positive wall in one of the most unexpected places.
Tais Torossian, a Grade 7 student, had an idea inspired from her church community and social media. Reflecting on the idea for the Prayer & Positivity Wall, Tais shared, “The idea came from two places – my church community and social media. I saw an area where people could jot down things bothering them or share what’s on their minds, creating a space for both reflection and connection with God. I wanted to inspire my friends and fellow girls in Middle School to foster a positive outlook on themselves and their community.”
Tais rallied a small group of Grade 7 students, including Gabby Holtzclaw, Anslee Ricksgers, Ella Forte, Emma Bartlett, Maggie Kennedy, and Gracie McCord, all part of Ms. Jenkins’ community. Together, they embarked on a mission to spread positivity and support within the Middle School. The decision to place their creation in the girls’ bathroom was intentional – a space where they could look into the mirror and recite positive affirmations to themselves.
Ms. Jenkins and Ms. Abernathy helped bring their vision to life, but first they presented their idea to Head of School, Leah Hannon. With support from both administrators and teachers, including Ms. Edwards, the students brainstormed design ideas, color schemes, and the overall theme of the prayer and positive wall.
Ms. Abernathy shared some thoughts on working with this incredible group of students. “How might we create a space for girls to be empowered through their peers? Mount Vernon is a special place where we are changing the lives of children daily. As a teacher and the MS IDEA coordinator, it may be difficult to identify the outcomes of the work we do within the Impact Ready plan. These girls designed consequential impact grounded in self-efficacy, compassion, kindness, and love. The Prayer/Positivity Wall is evident of our divine responsibility to others woven by the fruits of the spirit. My heart is filled with gratitude for these young ladies and I know this world will be in a better place with them.”
When Ms. Jenkins offered to provide supplies for the positive notes, she had no idea of how powerful the impact would be, nor what it would look like. Not until one of her grade 7 students ran into her French class exclaiming how amazing the display was. “Typically, when the girls gather in my room, they are catching up. The focus and intent around this project inspired me, and it would be amazing to see the impact if this is replicated in the other divisions,” Ms Jenkins shared.
This collaborative effort transformed a seemingly mundane space into a haven of encouragement and support.The story of these Grade 7 students serves as a powerful testament to the transformative impact that student-led initiatives can have on a school community. The Prayer/Positivity Wall is an example of what can happen when students are given the agency to design a better world.