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Recognized for kindness, a young citizen explains the value of deeds and words

Suellen Sawyer, a fifth grade student at Creeds Elementary School, has been recognized by teachers, her school and a citywide Parent Teacher organization for exemplifying the quality of kindness. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Suellen Sawyer, a fifth grade student at Creeds Elementary School, has been recognized by teachers, her school and a citywide Parent Teacher organization for exemplifying the quality of kindness. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

CREEDS — Suellen Sawyer, 10, lives in Pungo. She is in the fifth grade at Creeds Elementary School, where she is the student council association president. 

And she is kind. She won an award for exemplifying that trait this year.

“I won ‘kindness’ for the city of Virginia Beach,” she explained during a recent interview at the school. “I got ‘kindness’ for my class, and then I got it for my whole school.”

Teachers nominated her as their representative for a program that recognizes principles of citizenship. The nominations go to the Virginia Beach Council of Parent Teacher Associations.

“In the letter, it said every morning I greet my teachers, and I’m always helpful to students,” Sawyer said. 

The letter said much more than that, really.

[A]lways thoughtful and kind to her classmates and teachers … willing to help anyone in any way … willingly partners with students who are not the first ones who are usually chosen … 

The award is not her first superlative.

“I got ‘honesty’ for the whole school last year,” Sawyer said.

Things like honesty and kindness matter.

“Because it will make the world a better place,” she explained, “and it won’t be chaotic.”

Sawyer said there are a number of ways to be kind.

“Think before you say it.”

And: “Do what you think is right and not what your mind tells you to do – like, what you heart tells you to do.”

How so?

“Your heart is going to help you to do the kindest things. Sometimes, if you really think about it, you’re going to debate on if it would be the cool thing to do.”

Meaning the cool thing isn’t always the right thing.

“Yes.”

What else?

“Whenever I’m walking to the morning announcements, I always say good morning to everyone.”

She does the announcements twice a week. 

“They always greet me whenever I have a bad day,” she said, speaking of her classmates.

Other people are kind here, too.

“My teachers. They’re all equally kind. It’s like a small community, and we all know each other.”

This is her last year at Creeds. She already has selected electives for middle school. She’s nervous about the change.

“A little bit. I’ve been here so long, and I’ve gotten used to everyone.”

But she aims to be kind and honest at the next school, too. There are lots of ways to do that sort of thing. 

“You can help people if they don’t have a pencil. You can give them a pencil. … 

“Always greet people. … 

“When someone has a question, don’t ignore them. Answer it. … 

“You can give people advice. … 

“Cheer people up when they’re sad. I usually make them laugh. …

“You could be honest.”

Honesty is sometimes a way of being kind?

“Yes.”

Sawyer said her parents came to school the day she learned she had won kindness, but she did not know why they were there. She should have known something was up, though. She was asked to do morning announcements, but it was not her usual day.

“My mom told me she was coming to work on the fifth grade slide show. She said she told my dad to come to get her car inspected.”

Well, was that honest?

“No.” She smiled. “But it was like a good lie.”

 They told her about winning kindness for all of Virginia Beach while she was on camera to give the announcements. Her parents came out to congratulate her. It was a great surprise.

“Yes. Because I was the first person at Creeds to get that award.”

Sawyer cleared something up about her mom’s car before she headed off to lunch.

“She’s getting it inspected today.” 

The Independent News

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