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Gratitude Promotes a Positive Attitude at Ames

Ninth graders took a moment to reflect on everything they are grateful for at the Massapequa High School Ames Campus on Nov. 20. The annual gratitude day, purposefully held just days before Thanksgiving, was led by Ames administrators and pupil personnel services staff, who visited every science class throughout the day.

Social worker Kim Hession said that this has become an annual tradition to support social and emotional learning. Presenters spoke about the importance of gratitude, and then students had a chance to express their feelings.

Ms. Hession explained that practicing gratitude can improve social connections and increase happiness. It is also a tool for managing stress and helps people sleep better, she said. She and her fellow presenters noted that the brain has a natural bias toward negativity, so practicing gratitude is a meaningful way to focus on positive experiences and interactions.

“Very small expressions of gratitude can have a very big impact on mood and well-being,” she said. “It has a very positive impact on physical and mental health.”

Each session ended with the creation of an “Our gratitude jar” poster. Students wrote on sticky notes anything they are thankful for, such as their family, friends, teachers, pets and treasured possessions. By the end of the day, about two dozen posters were covered in colorful sticky notes reflecting hundreds of reasons that students are grateful.

In addition to Ms. Hession, presenters included Principal Tania Willman, Executive Assistant to the Principal Danielle Kennedy, Executive Assistant for Guidance Paul Weber, Supervisor of Special Education Amanda Lenoci, attendance officers Erik Lassen and Kelly Sciotto, guidance counselors Kate Balcuk, Sara Levine and Courtney Mollura, and psychologist Vincent Pennisi.