Thanksgiving is the natural time to focus on the things we have been blessed with and are grateful for.

But the Provo City School District decided to take it a step further with a month-long gratitude challenge.

The challenge was issued by the Provo City School District’s communications office as a way to help students and staff have an opportunity to share what they are grateful for. Communications Specialist Shauna Sprunger said it’s done even more than that.

“I think it’s boosted morale,” Sprunger said. “I think anytime you start thinking about what you are grateful for it changes the dynamic you get and it lends itself to a more positive feeling.”

The district encouraged each school to post to their social media pages with images, videos or words sharing what students and staff are thankful for.

They received positive notes about things individual teachers did to help students, messages in multiple languages and some expressed how grateful they were for a chance to learn in such a nice environment.

“It just makes me smile to think of all the positive things that the student and the faculty have to say about each other,” Sprunger said.

Melissa Haderlie, Spring Creek Elementary social media specialist, said the school really got interested in the challenge.

“They really did really well and it’s important for our community to see the kids saying they are grateful for these things,” she said. “Everyone here is so committed and it really wasn't a struggle for anyone to come up with anything to be grateful for.”

Haderlie said she was especially touched by a student’s message of gratitude for the opportunity to go to school or another who thanked everyone who told him they were doing a great job.

“It reminds us that we are all human and we need to remember to be grateful for one another,” she said.

Chelsea Cellar, Dixon Middle School social media specialist, said the challenge gave her school, students and staff an opportunity to really focus on the good things about their school.

“I think it’s important because it gives us a chance to stop for a minute and really look at what we have going on at the school and think about how we have great teachers and students that are achieving great things.”

Mikayla Bessey, who works in the district communications department, said she’s been happy to see the different ways each school has participated and taken on the challenge.

“It’s amazing to see the community it has built through all of our schools showing our gratitude about our district together,” she said. “It really shows how much we do have to be grateful for and the many positive things in our district.”

Shelby Slade is a reporter for the Daily Herald who covers crime and the southern part of Utah County.

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