Local elementary school students send encouraging words to students in El Paso

Posted at 7:57 AM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 11:22:32-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Days before the first day of school; tragedy struck in El Paso, Texas. A mass shooting at a Walmart left 20 dead and dozens injured.

In response to the tragedy, a teacher asked that teachers across the world have their students write and send words of encouragement to students in El Paso.

The Facebook post has been shared more than a thousand times, with teachers commenting about their willingness to provide support.

Roxanne Briganti, a first-grade teacher at Downtown Elementary School saw the post and created a lesson on showing compassion to others that are experiencing tragedy.

"I want my students to be friends, human to human. I don't want it to be those kids over there or it happened to them," said Briganti.

The distance between El Paso to Bakersfield is more than 900-miles away, but Briganti said she wants her students to understand that there are similarities between the two communities.

"I think when you teach about your community, about your school, and your family and when you build on that students, see the world smaller. It's a person, a person got hurt. Not just it wasn't a cartoon or a movie," said Briganti.

Throughout the school-year, Downtown Elementary School focuses on various targets each month; such as compassion and integrity. Noreen Barthelmes, Principal of Downtown Elementary School said the lesson aligns with the values of the school.

"We look at educating the whole child and their social-emotional learning is as important as their citizenship and their emotional well-being, their physical well-being, and their academic excellence," said Barthelmes.

The first-grade students wrote uplifting messages on the back of a bumblebee picture, with messages such as 'I like you' and 'be happy'. Briganti said she hopes there is a ripple effect throughout the community to make the world safer.

"I had a chance to impact 22 students, 22 little hearts that will grow up and be part of the world," said Briganti. "You are not forgotten. You are one of us. You are our community."

If you're a teacher and are interested in sending positive postcards to students in El Paso, click here.