Peter John Rendall is a role model in my eyes. PJ has been in our school since kindergarten. In that time, he has accomplished a lot of the goals of each grade along with his classmates. He is learning to read and write with increasing fluency and depth of comprehension. He is learning mathematical thinking. He is studying history and geography and science.
PJ has also had other things to learn that most of our students able to do with little thought. While in elementary school, PJ transitioned from using a walker to moving about with crutches and leg braces. This year, in fifth grade, he participated in his first Run for Knowledge. He completed the run slowly and steadily. His stamina and drive to accomplish this goal is admirable. This perseverance serves him well as it is as applicable to athletic accomplishments as it is to academic accomplishments. When the going gets tough for me, I remember PJ and students like him who face additional challenges.
By the time, PJ reached the finish line, we were long out of medals. One of our first graders, Gregoire Jaffres-Bell, was still at the finish line with his mom. He watched PJ cross the finish line to the cheers of those left in the park. He noticed that PJ did not get a medal. In a moment of grace and compassion, Gregoire gave his medal to PJ. I am as proud of Gregoire for identifying the hard work of a fellow Charger as I am of PJ for completing the mile run.
Some of our middle school students saw this interaction and quickly joined in the generosity by giving both Gregoire and PJ their medals. They made two young boys very happy.
Often the work of schools is thought to be limited to teaching academics. Equally important is the culture of care and communal responsibility that is nurtured in school. I am proud to publicly celebrate Peter John and Gregoire who demonstrated these values at the Run for Knowledge and to the middle school students (sorry, I don’t remember who they were) for joining in.
(Photo courtesy of The Broadsheet and photographer, Robert Simko.)