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Connecting the Dots with Byrd Students and Pediatric Patients

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On September 15, students at Admiral Byrd Elementary School took perhaps one of the simplest creative forms one can imagine- a dot- and created something extraordinary. In celebration of International Dot Day, first graders at Byrd not only expressed the creativity of students in CCSD59, but also their compassion.

International Dot Day began on September 15, 2009, in honor of the publication anniversary of a book called simply, “The Dot.” The book, written by author Peter H. Reynolds, tells the story of a caring teacher who dares a resistant student to “make her mark”, which begins with a simple dot on a piece of paper. The student, Vashti, sets off on a journey of learning about herself, and the story ends with her inspiring others.

Since 2009, International Dot Day has quickly caught on and is now a day to celebrate creativity, self-expression, bravery, connection, art, sharing, and quite simply, dots. Reynolds himself suggests drawing with dots, looking for dots in everyday life, playing a new instrument, creating something new, or reconnecting the dots with an old friend.

Dot Day was brought to Byrd by first grade teacher Sara Magnafichi, who was inspired by the book and wanted her class to participate. Another first grade class, taught by Ms. Zigman, quickly jumped on board.

To celebrate the spirit of the event, students made no-sew, dot themed blankets for children hospitalized at Alexian Brothers Women and Children’s Hospital in Hoffman Estates. Copies of “The Dot”, boxes of crayons, and drawing pads were donated to go along with each blanket.

“The students wanted children in the hospital to know that other children are thinking about them, and to encourage them to be brave,” said Mary Ellen Esser, Admiral Byrd’s Principal.

On Thursday, September 16, Ms. Magnafichi and Ms. Zigman delivered the blankets and other donations to the Alexian Brothers Child Life Team.

Magnafichi added that students feel great compassion for the hospitalized children. “Everyone has been sick before, and many students have visited hospitals for various reasons,” she said.  “What’s better than a comfy blanket, a good book, and new crayons to color with, to assist in helping others feel better, be brave, and make their mark?”

First grade student Kaylee R., who helped make blankets, agreed.  When asked what children receiving the donations would say about them, Kaylee responded, “They would say it’s amazing! And some may think, ‘I don’t like this blanket.’ But, only some.”

To close the circle of events, students entered a Twitter competition that asked what three words best describe what Dot Day is all about. Students from Byrd won the competition, and the class will receive a signed copy of another Peter Reynolds book, “Ish”, as the winning prize.

Their three words? Mindset, strength, and bravery.

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