Students share words of thanks during holiday week

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published November 24, 2015

 Renata Carlesimo practices reading her personal narrative, titled “Thankful,” in front of Haight’s sixth-grade English language arts class.

Renata Carlesimo practices reading her personal narrative, titled “Thankful,” in front of Haight’s sixth-grade English language arts class.

Photo by Deb Jacques


CLAWSON — Sixth-grader Anna Rusing is grateful that she will be spending Thanksgiving with her father, who suffered a stroke earlier this year.

Rusing watched with a close eye and hopeful heart during his hospital stay and physical therapy, and she remembered even the smallest details while visiting him.

She wrote about the experience before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I’m thankful for my father, because he showed me that effort can be put forth to do the greatest and most impossible goals,” she said. “He showed me I can set my mind to try things.”

It is the binding connections to family members and the seemingly small moments in time that mean the most to the students in Michelle Haight’s sixth-grade English language arts class.

A small group of students in Haight’s Clawson Middle School classroom shared their thankful moments last week while rehearsing to read their personal narratives. They wrote their narratives for the ELA Community Sharing program, which was scheduled to be held inside the Blair Memorial Library on Nov. 23, after the Review went to press.

This is the second year that Haight organized the evening showcase to display her students’ personal stories of thankfulness in front of their friends, family and community members.

“It’s early in the year, but I try to do this around Thanksgiving because it’s great practice for them. I love to challenge them to step out of their comfort zone, and what I love about this particular activity is that I have students who are good writers, and I have students who are developing writers, and it doesn’t matter because it’s about the sharing and being risk-takers,” Haight said.

The students’ detailed writing and descriptive phrases brought their stories to life.

Student Renata Carlesimo said she is most thankful for the lessons she learned while winning a medal at a cross-country invitational.

“When you put your mind to something, you can do it,” she said. “Nothing is more satisfying than the sense of accomplishment of a job well done.

“Doing your best really does pay off. For this experience, I am most thankful.”

Other stories included a trip to Lake Orion with a grandmother, a roller coaster ride, a trip to Build-A-Bear and a moment with a mom in a scary emergency room.

Student Charlotte Verner recalled even the smallest details of the day she learned that her grandpa had passed away after a battle with brain cancer.

“I learned the importance of family that day,” she said. “I will never forget all of the wonderful memories I had with loving and caring for Grandpa Verner.”

Student Jonathan Kinney remembered losing and then finding his new kitten, Mimi.

“I learned to pay more attention to those in my care,” Kinney said. “I also learned there is no cost greater (if you lose them) than a pet or person in your family.”

Haight said she is proud of her students for embracing their writing, because it was a volunteer assignment that students completed on their own time.

“So, it’s impressive,” Haight said. “It is a lot of responsibility and they live up to it.”

Rusing said she learned quite a lot from taking on the writing task.

“It’s OK to be yourself and share stories and stand up for doing things,” she said.

Student Emma Hartley agreed.

“It’s OK to do your own story and to just share it with others,” she said.

Student Ena Dokic said this year she is thankful for her family. Her grandmother died recently.

“Don’t try to get away from your family,” she said. “Try and spend more time with them.”