School has never been purely an academic space; it’s also where students explore their passions, learn more about themselves, and grow as individuals. Social-emotional learning principles and techniques help students to build character and develop into active citizens of the world. At Ross Lower School, the faculty work diligently to integrate into student life the eight Core Values essential to a Ross education—courage, compassion, gratitude, responsibility, respect, integrity, cooperation, and mindfulness. In addition to proactively finding ways in which to practice their Core Values, students take on service projects throughout the year to enhance their community.
Most recently, students felt moved to assist those affected by Hurricane Irma and Harvey. During a presentation at a schoolwide assembly, sixth graders shared with their schoolmates details about this year’s historically devastating hurricane season. Hurricane Harvey alone destroyed more than 200,000 homes and killed nearly 90 people. Yet it was the story of those unable to ask for help that most resonated with students: the difficulties encountered by thousands of pets displaced by the hurricanes.
Scott Howe, executive director of the Animal Relief Fund of the Hamptons (ARF), visited the Lower School to recount ARF’s role in hurricane relief efforts. Since August, ARF has been working with partners around the nation to take in animals made homeless by the hurricanes. Over the course of three trips, they’ve rescued 56 dogs and cats from southeast Texas, 49 Hurricane Irma refugees from Florida, and 70 pets from Puerto Rico.
In a campuswide effort to assist those affected by the hurricanes, students spent the last two weeks collecting donations of pet supplies. Additionally, each grade level participated in a disaster relief project. To welcome and lift the spirits of ARF’s most recent additions, both sixth graders and pre-nursery students crafted handmade dog blankets. Nursery, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten students made all-natural dog biscuits as treats, while the first graders created patterned carrying pouches. Students in second through fifth grade connected with three schools in Florida, to which they are sending photos and homemade cards of encouragement.