Bemis Junior High School staff held a monthlong challenge to teach students about gratitude.

Bemis Junior High School staff held a monthlong challenge to teach students about gratitude.

Photo provided by Tim McAvoy

Bemis students complete monthlong challenge practicing gratitude

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | C&G Newspapers | Published January 9, 2024


STERLING HEIGHTS/SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — Bemis Junior High School students completed a monthlong challenge to practice gratitude in November, and they said that they learned a lot through the process.

One of the Bemis Wellness Committee’s goals in coming up with the challenge was to help students wind down and refocus their attention. According to some of those involved in the challenge, practicing gratitude is as simple as noticing something good and genuinely appreciating it.  

Jennifer Kauflin, an eighth grade U.S. history teacher at Bemis Junior High, said there were eight members on the wellness committee.

“It was an initiative to get things started, and we will do a couple each semester. This was the first one for first semester. The goal was to cultivate the idea of gratitude throughout November. With Thanksgiving, we thought it was a good opportunity to teach kids the benefits of practicing gratitude in their lives,” she said.

She said they asked every teacher to participate in some way in their classroom once a week.

“I gave students a journal and time each day to write down things they were grateful for. I think it went well. We are surveying the kids and staff to get their ideas,” Kauflin said.

One activity Kauflin did involved giving students prompts to get them started talking about gratitude.

“Everyone was engaged as they had those conversations. There are just so many benefits to taking the time to focus on what is good in life. I think it brings everyone to a happier mood and makes a more positive atmosphere. It builds unity,” she said.

Eighth grader Olivia Uhring said it is important to “show appreciation and to help others.” She said she felt it helped her grow “in a new way.”

Other activities included thanking five people throughout a day and writing thank-you notes.

Eighth grader Brennan Marchin said that journaling made him more grateful for the things in his life.

“When you think about things that other people may not have, I am grateful and blessed to have a roof over my head,” he said in a press release.

In December, the Bemis Wellness Committee challenged students to “be a light” through acts of kindness.