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Caribou middle schoolers spread messages of hope to first responders

CARIBOU, Maine — Eighth-graders at Caribou Community School learned lessons in resilience and kindness last week when they wrote special messages to hospital workers and first responders.

As part of a recent class unit, students learned that one of the “17 attributes of resiliency” is a strong support system from family, friends and community members, noted English language arts and social studies teacher Kim Barnes.

To be a strong support system for their own community, 80 students and their teachers traveled to Cary Medical Center on Thursday to write chalk messages outside various locations, including the Maine Veterans Home, main entrance and rehabilitation center. 

Messages such as “Thank you for serving,” “Thank you for keeping us safe” and “Thank you for being a hero” filled the pavement of the hospital campus until weekend rain washed away the words. But the impact those words had on hospital employees won’t fade away anytime soon.

“Some people were moved to tears and said, ‘It’s been really hard to do what we do [during the pandemic]'” Barnes said. “I think the students gained a better understanding of how resiliency can help them through challenges in their own lives.”

Students also visited the Caribou fire and police stations and presented first responders with “a bucket of thanks,” which included handmade thank you cards. 

The visit inspired Caribou Fire and Ambulance to post their own message of thanks on their Facebook page: “Acts of kindness like this help with morale and show that small town community support is still around.”

Liv Adams, a student in Barnes’ class, said that she wrote “Thank you” at Cary and “We appreciate your bravery” on her card to first responders. 

“People need to feel appreciated and welcomed so they can keep going,” Adams said.

Adams’ classmate Kayden Guerrette said that the experience thanking first responders taught her the importance of reaching out to others with kind words.

“[It’s important] to let them know that we’re all in this together and that they’re not alone,” Guerrette said.

CARIBOU, Maine — November 11, 2021 — Caribou Community School eighth grader Marshall Hersey writes thank you messages to Cary Medical Center employees on the hospital’s campus. (Courtesy of Kim Barnes)

CARIBOU, Maine — November 11, 2021 — Caribou Community School eighth graders created and presented thank you cards to the city’s first responders as part of a class unit on resilience. (Courtesy of Kim Barnes)

CARIBOU, Maine — November 11, 2021 — Caribou eighth graders Colby Ouellette (left) and Dimitri Kern write thank you messages to hospital workers on the Cary Medical Center campus. (Courtesy of Kim Barnes)

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