On the eve of Thanksgiving, the children and students in HANC’s Samuel and Elizabeth Bass Golding Elementary School in West Hempstead paid a special tribute to some hardworking members of the staff. From early in the morning until late at night, the custodial staff labors tirelessly to keep the building clean, to bring needed supplies and equipment to the classrooms, and attend to so many details that help the school run smoothly. In addition to their usual responsibilities, Covid-19 has necessitated continuous cleansing and sanitizing that not only helps keep the building clean but helps to ensure the continued good health of everyone in the school building. In order to recognize and thank the custodians, each class was asked to design a tribute to the maintenance people that would express their thankfulness to this team of helpers.
During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, teachers inspired their students to create touching and meaningful tributes that expressed their gratitude for all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. The first grade classes decorated a bulletin board outside the custodial department’s office with the word “Gracias,” each letter containing the names of the first graders and their expressions of thankfulness. The third graders wrote their messages of thanks on a piece of construction paper that was then connected to a chain. The fourth grade students designed a bulletin board, with a message from each student displayed for all to see. The sixth graders decorated a huge banner with sparkling stars, each one expressing why they are thankful for the help of the custodial staff.
On Wednesday afternoon, the fourth through sixth grade students assembled outside and sat in a huge circle, each cohort masked and sitting socially distant from each other. Rabbi Michael Merrill, assistant principal, Judaic Studies, addressed the crowd, remarking, “The custodians are among the hardest working people in the building. Let’s show them the respect and gratitude they deserve now by applauding when they come out. But more than that, let’s show it to them going forward by helping to make their job easier…” At that moment, Santiago, Alicia, and Anderson were called out to the back yard for this special tribute. When they arrived, everyone began to clap and then each class presented their signs and chains of thanks. Rabbi Merrill expressed communal gratitude for all they do around the school and reinforced the important role they play in keeping the HANC family safe. At the conclusion of the ceremony, each member of the custodial staff was presented with a heartfelt note and gift that came from all of the members of the administration, faculty, and staff.
Watching from their classroom windows, Morah Rebecca Weiss’ kindergarten students joined in the applause. One child, Darren Lowy, had a big smile on his face and he looked up at his morah and said, “That’s a mitzvah!” Yes, Darren, it was a beautiful expression of hakarat hatov for HANC family members who work so hard and do so much to help us. It was a meaningful moment for everyone and served as a reminder of the importance of expressing thanks to everyone who helps us.