By Gina Rifkin, 6th Grade Teacher:
As part of Laurence's commitment to Character Education, we have a long-established relationship with the Lowman School, which educates severely physically and cognitively challenged children. This special relationship has lasted for more than thirty years and holds a distinct place in the children's hearts and minds.
Last Friday, our 6th Graders had the unique opportunity to spend the day with some of the students and faculty of the Lowman School. Throughout the year, Laurence supports Lowman through events such as the Thanksgiving Turkey Drive and the Holiday Toy Drive, but this visit, as always, was truly remarkable because our students had the opportunity to spend a few hours interacting directly with students from Lowman on our campus.
The children spent the morning playing sports, making music, and having snacks together. It was amazing to witness how quickly the bonds of friendship can form between children, and watching our 6th Graders show such genuine compassion for others was truly touching. After the event, our students spent time reflecting on the visit and put their thoughts into words through short essays and poems.
Perhaps the best way to get a feel for this extraordinary day, and the genuinely heart-to-heart connections the 6th graders forged with their Lowman friends is through viewing the photos (click here for the gallery) and reading what some of our 6th Graders had to say:
"[Toni] started to cling on to me, this time more than she had earlier. On the short walk between the play structure and the beginning of the wheelchair race, something changed. Toni went from being a child that I was helping, to almost a sister in a way - holding onto me, letting me lead the way. It was a really amazing feeling. And at that moment, I realized that this was my reward for making this girl happy. As we watched the wheelchair race, she leaned on me and held my hand. And I once again got this amazing feeling."
* * *
"[The Lowman visit] is an amazing and humbling experience for everyone involved and has been a highlight of my sixth grade year so far ... The morning was full of sad but fulfilling moments and the hours passed by quicker than seconds. Surprisingly, it was way more tiring than I had expected, but it felt good to make a difference ... When it was time to say goodbye it was a bittersweet ending to a marvelous day."
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"The Lowman children are just like us
They love to laugh and smile
People like Michael shouldn't be feared
They should be treated like children no different from myself
People like Michael shouldn't be avoided
They should be loved and appreciated"
* * *By Stella D.:
"We fed her, took care of her, and she felt like my child! We even had a wheelchair race. I could tell that she didn't like the sun. I didn't know how, but I knew. Then I realized, I could understand her! This was one of the best moments of my life! I could tell she was happy and glad to be here and I was the same. When it was time to go, I nearly cried. I loved her so much! Today was my favorite part of the year so far. I'm hoping I can visit her next year. I don't know how, but I will try to.
I will pray for you.
Love you to the moon and beyond."
* * *By Ava:
A music lover with a big heart
His love as beautiful as a piece of art
I somehow knew what he was saying
And just as us, he was really smart
Playing the drums and holding onto the ball
I realized that he was no different at all
And he was still a human being
It made me feel happy inside
That I and we were being Max's guide
And we should never judge a book by its cover
Because then it will make them want to hide
Saying goodbye was definitely tough
Because I knew his journey ahead would be rough
But he will always have a place in my heart
Inspiring me every day is just enough"