Spirit days an important part of fostering school community

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Tue., Jan. 15, 2013
Erin and Tiana read in the hallway of Hebron Elementary School during Pajama Day on Jan. 11.
Erin and Tiana read in the hallway of Hebron Elementary School during Pajama Day on Jan. 11.

The Character Education Committee, Character Education Assemblies, and the Six Pillars of Character (Caring, Citizenship, Fairness, Respect, Responsibility, Trustworthiness) have long been a part of the Hebron public school system. Character education initiatives are designed to foster a positive learning environment, help combat bullying, and help develop morally responsible members of society. And in an increasingly unsettled world, events such as the Jan. 11 Pajama Day celebration at Hebron Elementary School become an important way to provide normalcy, fun and a sense of community for young students.

Following the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., one of Acting Superintendent Kathy Veronesi’s primary concerns was to “remind children that life is mostly good and that they are taken care of.” Amid practical and serious concerns regarding improving school safety, it’s important to maintain the sense that “we are still a happy place,” said Veronesi. A tour of Hebron Elementary on Jan. 11 left little room for doubt that there is still plenty of room for happiness and fun at the school.

As a group of fourth-graders headed out to recess in pajamas, bathrobes, jackets and boots, they passed little girls huddled together in the hallway, participating in quiet reading dressed in pajamas and fuzzy slippers. In Stephen Hurley’s third-grade classroom, things were quiet. The children were still out at recess. Hurley is part of a Character Education Committee that includes numerous teachers and administrators. Part of the committee’s job is to plan events such as Pajama Day, one of several “spirit days” planned throughout the school year.

Hurley described Pajama Day by saying it “is just a really fun way to unite everyone together.” Many of the teachers, including Hurley, join the third- through sixth-grade student population in dressing up. “They get a kick out of that,” said Hurley. “As teachers, we realize they’re young, they work really hard, and we want them to have a lot of fun.”

Pajama Day is held on a Friday, when kids tend to be tired. “It has added a lot of fun for them,” said Hurley. “It makes them laugh. You see a lot of smiles and it’s a nice way to end your week.”

There were certainly a lot of smiles when Hurley’s students returned from the playground. After exchanging jackets and boots for bathrobes and fuzzy slippers, the children were eager to talk about their day. Pajama Day received a unanimous vote of approval.

“It’s fun to do Pajama Day because you don’t have to get dressed and stuff,” said Andrew.

“I think it’s relaxing to wear pajamas,” said Aidan, who was dressed in space-themed footie pajamas under a bright, red robe.

“It’s relaxing, comfortable, and it’s fun to show what you wear to bed,” said Spencer, who was dressed in camouflage lounge pants.

Catie, who was very pleased with her purple fuzzy slippers, said, “Pajamas are awesome because they’re relaxing. And it’s fun to see Mr. Hurley in his PJs.”

Eva took a practical approach. “I think it’s easy in the morning because you don’t have to get dressed,” she said.

“It’s really comfortable to wear PJs in school,” said Julianna.

“It’s a fun day and it’s a relaxing time and you can show your friends your cool pajamas,” said Audrey.

“I like to have Pajama Day because I get to wear my pajamas to school and they’re comfortable,” said Trent.

With that, the exuberant, smiling third-graders launched into an impromptu parade, during which they demonstrated their version of “Gangnam Style,” a dance accompanying a popular single by South Korean musician PSY.

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