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Twenty-two students were recognized and awarded for having empathy for others at Whitman Post Elementary School on Feb. 5.

By Marianne Mueller


Empathy is defined as “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

On Feb. 5, one student from each homeroom (both in-person and remote) was recognized and awarded for demonstrating the character trait of empathy at Whitman Post Elementary School. A total of 22 students in third through fifth grade; were recognized with a distinctive honor. 

“Our Golden Character Trait Program focuses on a different character trait each quarter,” WPES Social Worker Kristin Carroll said. “The first quarter is Kindness, the second quarter is empathy, the third quarter is Integrity and the fourth quarter is perseverance. This is something that we have done for several years.

“Golden character is the base of our character-building program at Whitman Post Elementary,” Carroll said. “We utilize this to enhance the positive school environment in the classroom, but also in our community. We strive to teach our students that they are all valuable and unique and that we embrace and celebrate our similarities and differences.

“The educational staff at WPES provides our students with the knowledge and experiences to successfully navigate challenging situations and to be good citizens. We aim to provide a school environment that teaches academics while promoting kindness, empathy, integrity, and perseverance.” 

“When giving out recognition in 2021 we had to be a little creative this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, “Carroll said. The students are recognized with a golden crown, a golden certificate, a golden treat, recognition on the school social media page, and other teacher selected privileges such as being the line leader or choosing an activity in the classroom.

In order to qualify to earn this recognition, students consistently had to demonstrate empathy as this month’s character trait. Some classrooms vote on who is recognized; some are teacher selected.   

Crisancyana “Cici” Cornellier, a third grader at WPES was asked what empathy means. She responded, “It means to be nice, kind and to help others.” Her teacher told her that she won the award for helping people. Cici has demonstrated multiple examples of how she has shown empathy.

She helps her classmates when they are struggling in class and tries to explain things to them. She helped a classmate who was struggling in Math by letting the teacher aid know this classmate was struggling and needed help. In art class she offers to help her teacher in passing out folders. She comforted a classmate after she hurt herself doing a handstand. Whenever she witnesses one classmate not being so kind to another she lets that person know that wasn’t kind. She then talked to her classmate to ensure that they were okay. When her classmates do well on a test, she offers praise and lets them know, that they did a “good job.” She also remembers to use “Please” and “Thank You” regularly.

Fourth grader and award recipient Nathan Schmidt said, “I felt bad for e-learners who were unable to see their friends. “We were learning about Black History Month and while learning about the people who had bad issues and what they faced I felt bad for them. Many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. At night sometimes I can feel the pain in their hearts.

“I feel bad for the teachers who have to balance working at home one day, and the next they are back in the classroom,” he adds. They have a lot of students to take care of.” Printed on Schmidt’s award is a note of thanks for being an excellent role model.

Nathan’s Mother Tammy says, “I am so thankful for the Whitman Post staff. Even with all of the craziness of COVID and a mountain of extra tasks and protocol they still make time to recognize the children.”

Fifth grader Malakhi Izaiah-Percy Hilton showed empathy to his friend, who is an E-Learner when she had felt stress and was overwhelmed about a 3D art assignment. “I knew how stressful it was because deadlines were approaching. So my mom set something up with her parents so that I could go over and help her with the assignment and to meet the deadline.”

He has extended his showing of empathy to peers, acquaintances and family. “A few of the ways I have helped others include helping my family by picking up around the house or helping someone pick up their materials when they spilled on the floor; or even helping somebody carry their groceries.”

“Some people I showed empathy toward I had a strong friendship with, some I barely knew and others I didn’t even know at all. Even when I don’t even know somebody, I am always willing to help them out if they are having trouble with something. As for my family, I strive to show empathy toward them on a daily basis.”

“It is Black History Month; being a mixed race including African-American, I hope that future generations or even my offspring will follow in my footsteps as we did with past generations and learned from their examples.”

“We really enjoy recognizing our student’s positive character and I am proud to work at a school that has so many students making a positive difference in the world today along with their supportive families and the community we live within,” Carroll said.  

“Whitman Post is filled with children who show empathy for others every day, and those students are shining examples of this, WPES Principal,” Megan Forsythe said. “Our Warriors continue to amaze me with their strength and hearts of gold.”

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