Be the "I" in Friend

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What are the qualities of a good friend? What qualities do others recognize in me? Am I being the friend that others need? The 5th grade students at OCCS have been exploring these questions and others in friendship groups with one of our school counselors, Mrs. Michelle. Each fall, 5th grade students are divided into small groups of 3-5 students. These groups meet weekly and dive into friendship skills including teamwork, empathy, good listening, helpful talking, and solving problems.

This year, our groups began with students listing 25 qualities of a good friend. Boys' and girls' answers were compiled into a wordle to highlight the most important characteristics they look for in friendship. In looking at the wordle, the larger words were reported more frequently than the smaller words. These wordles will be taped to each students' accordion folder as a reminder to be the friend that others need.

To study these friendship qualities more closely, each student was then asked to pick characteristics and describe how they could be specifically shown in friendship. After talking about these ideas in our small groups, students were excited to share with others. The "Be the 'I' in Friend" poster as well as friendship videos were created to encourage our school in friendship skills. The poster can be found in the lunch hallway.

These friendship groups are a perfect way to start the 5th grade and middle school years. As students transition into the new environment and expectations of middle school, small groups are a safe place where students can build connections to one another, practice empathy, and develop skills to solve social problems in a productive way.

Building and maintaining friendships is not easy. It takes intentional words and actions to be a friend to others. As a community of parents, school, and church, may we support our children in their friendship efforts.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14

Mrs. Michelle Alons
Counselor grades 3-8


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