SPOTSWOOD, NJ - "Wisdom was not on the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile," Robert Fulghum wrote in his now famous poem, "Everything I Learned I Learned In Kindergarten." The words are simple, but the message rings true and it's a powerful one especially in today's often tumultuous society.
Schoenly School Principal Jennifer Asprocolas sent her first graders off to the Spotswood School District's Appleby School with a simple, but powerful message; embrace kindness.
"You are my first ever first grade class," Asprocolas said to the members of Dawn Hyland and Carol Kuhn's first grade classes. "I have learned a lot from each of you and enjoyed getting to know you. You have left your mark at Schoenly School. At Appleby, you will expand your education. The one message I'd like to leave with you is to always choose kindness."
"Kindness is always the right thing to do," Asprocolas continued. "In a room full of people, be the kind person. Kindness doesn't require grand gestures or tons of money. It doesn't take much time out of your day. It doesn't even take much thought. Kindness is easy."
Schoenly School capped off a week of moving up ceremonies and preschool celebrations with the school's oldest students. Five first grade classes held their moving up ceremonies this afternoon with Hyland and Kuhn's classes having the early celebration. Jennifer Saldarini, Jennifer Nocera and Jackie Cassidy's classes held theirs in a second ceremony in order to accommodate the parents, siblings, grandparents and relatives gathered to mark this important milestone on the educational ladder. Spotswood Superintendent Graham Peabody, Spotswood Board of Education President Dulce Branco-Rivera and Spotswood PTA President Melissa Hallerman were on hand to congratulate the soon-to-be Appleby School second graders.
"Always remember that kind words and kind actions are more powerful than unkind words and unkind actions," Hyland told her 22 students, reinforcing Asprocolas' message.
Hyland also went on to focus on the importance of being unique.
"The world would be very boring if we were all the same," Hyland said, fighting through her laryngitis. "Always let your own personalities shine through. Don't ever be afraid to let your own colors show. Be kind. Be hopeful. Be original and most of all just be you."
Schoenly School kindergarteners held their moving up ceremonies on Monday while the school's youngest students started a new tradition. In lieu of a moving up ceremony, Schoenly School preschoolers held their first annual end-of-the year carnival to mark a year of learning important educational and life lessons in the classroom and on the sandpile.
Even though today's audience was a room full of six and seven year olds and not university graduates, the message is the same.
"Never settle for ordinary because you're not," Kuhn said when it was her turn to address the packed multi-purpose room. "I know from experience that hard work will take you wonderful places."