Hawthorne students teach each other what it means to ‘belong’


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Many lessons are taught at Hawthorne elementary, but one of the strongest lessons isn’t one learned from the teacher, it’s by their fellow students.

It takes courage to succeed. That’s exactly what teachers and students at Hawthorne are learning through their circle of courage.

“The circle of courage is an object that we use. It’s like… a sign of peace here at Hawthorne,” Fifth-grader Cadence Swanson said.

“We gather all of our kids on the second day of school just to get them together and create that community and that family atmosphere in our school and make sure all our kids feel like they belong,” Hawthorne Principal Stephanie Jones said.

The new kindergarteners rushed through the arch of fifth graders, being welcomed as new members of the Hawthorne family.

“It is important to get those kids right into school and make them feel like they belong,” Jones said.

For new kindergarteners like Lavon’te Brown, that’s been pretty easy, considering how many new friends he’s made.

Lavon’te Brown: Maybe like… 15.

Max Hofer: 15 new friends? That’s awesome, man.

The circle of courage is embraced by all grades and it consists of four parts: Belonging, mastery, generosity and independence. For fifth graders like Cadence Swanson, helping to pass on what she’s learned through her time means a lot.

“It felt good that it’s still going on. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in kindergarten,” Swanson said.

“If they belong, they want to be at school and they want to be here. It just creates that community that we want for our kids to be in every day: to be safe and learn,” Jones said.

At the end of the year, the students all gather again, but this time the kindergartners are the ones that see the fifth-graders off, sending their courage with them into the next phase of their lives.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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