St. Joseph Middle School Language Arts teacher Elizabeth Casterline wanted to “ease” her students back into the school routine after Christmas Break. She had them pick a “Word of the Year”, one that would guide them through 2019.

“It was a one-day, fun activity to get us back in the swing of things,” Mrs. Casterline said. “That was supposed to be the end of it,”

But it ended up being so much more, as students shared the “why” behind their word.

Amyah Bozell, 6th grade
The reason I picked bloom because
bloom makes me think that I can grow no matter what.
That no one is going to bring me down. Bloom also means to me that
I am pretty, and I’m a survivor like if someone were to cut me down, I wouldn’t let them.
I love how the word helps me, and it stays in the back of my head, and I love
how I get up in the morning and I say it before I start my day. I love
how I focus on it. I tell people if they are down not to let those people hate on you,
you are your own person. So to everyone be yourself.

Eighth-grader Mya Klon wrote a creative reflection on the process.

“Sometimes it might be a little nerve-racking, and you might be scared what others will think, it just depends on who you are, but sometimes you just have to take that RISK, and be CONFIDENT, and FEARLESS. And who cares if you’re IMPERFECT or DIFFERENT, that’s who you are, so just CELEBRATE and ENJOY it.”

Below are essay excerpts and artwork from our thoughtful and talented middle-schoolers.

Adam Thome, 7th grade
“I picked this word because no one is perfect. Even if you think you are, there will always be at least one thing you can’t do, or can’t do that well. Everyone is made equal and imperfect.”

Ryan Casterline, 7th grade
“You are only in middle school once, so you better live it with joy and happiness. So this year is going to be a voyage. I hope that all my friends are making smart and some fun decisions. Don’t rock the boat too much.”

Emily Mawi, 7th grade
“I’m usually not the peacemaker but the one causing all the trouble. This year I don’t want to just sit there and say nothing. I want to be able to forgive others and make peace with them. I want to be able to say I didn’t mean to do that and I’m sorry I hurt you.”

Different (new me)
Veronica Aye, 8th grade
“Since this is a new year, I desire to be new of myself as well. I would be more mature, more understanding of the other, more kind to people around me, and appreciate more what I have. This word means me being different from last year and changing myself.”

Daisy Gaona, 8th grade
“As this year starts I want to be thankful for things, even when it’s not going as planned or as I want. Gratitude to me means to be appreciative of everything and grateful even when it’s hard.”

Gregory Garfield, 8th grade
“The word courage reminds me to always try new things and stand up for what is right even when people are against the good.”

Rose Ram, 7th grade
“I want to feel more delighted about things. It would help me feel better, and make me a better person. Feeling more delighted can also make others feel the same too – a wonderful feeling.”

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