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Poplar Grove students spend first day of school spreading kindness to classmates

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Poplar Grove First Day

Poplar Grove Elementary School students spend their first half-day getting to know their teachers and classmates and spreading joy by offering up compliments.

Franklin Special School District’s first batch of buses were up and running Wednesday morning, carrying half-nervous, half-excited children with their colorful backpacks and notebooks to their first day of school. 

At Poplar Grove Elementary School, students went straight to their individual classes, where they met the teachers and fellow students with whom they will spend the year. 

As teachers acquainted students with their morning routines for the first time, some of the parents circled up with Poplar Grove Elementary Principal Alisha Erickson to say a prayer, blessing the school and everything to come this year. 

Poplar Grove First Day

Parents of Poplar Grove students gather at the front of the school with Principal Alisha Erickson to pray for the upcoming year.

Erickson then made her way to each classroom to greet the students — almost all of whom she already knew by name — and share her confidence that this year is going to be a great one. About an hour into the kids’ half-day, she said everything was already off to a good start. 

“It’s been fantastic,” Erickson said.

“I love the first day. Everybody comes a little nervous but always excited.” 

Erickson’s first stop was Christine House’s — that’s Mrs. House to the kids — first-grade classroom, where she met Laney, the class’s only new Poplar Grove student, and said hello again to familiar faces fresh out of kindergarten. She then gave the students their first challenge of the year: Say something nice to someone sitting nearby. 

Some of the children whispered their compliments, barely meeting their neighbors’ eyes; some eagerly shouted their praises. 

“Doesn’t it feel so good to say something nice to somebody else?” Erickson asked the kids.

“That’s the beautiful thing about being kind to somebody ... it makes you feel good, and it makes them feel good. And I know this is going to be a room filled with kindness and love this year. I am so glad to welcome you back. I’m so glad to have you back.” 

Erickson hopped from class to class encouraging the kids to spread kindness on their first day and all the days to come. Madelyn See said this is how her first-graders will start each morning.

Poplar Grove First Day

After getting the jitters out through a morning dance session, Rochelle Wright’s first-graders whisper and shout — depending on the child — praise to their neighbor.

A couple rooms down, Rochelle Wright started the day with her students by spreading positive energy in a different way: through the power of dance. The kids released their first-day wiggles along to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, replicating some of their signature moves for Erickson when she came in to greet them. 

In second grade, students opened boxes of brand-new school supplies and, in Starr Wallace’s class, decorated papers to kick off a year of classroom projects. 

“We’re going to have some portfolios this year with our amazing work so we can show our parents,” Wallace said. 

As second grade brings new challenges, Erickson followed suit, asking students to compliment not one person, but three. A few kids nearly burst at the opportunity to call out “Dr. Wallace is amazing! 

FSSD students will have the opportunity to continue spreading kindness at their first full day, Thursday, while Williamson County School District students begin with a half-day on Friday.

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