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Columbus Elementary Pupils Learn Benefits Of Being 'Warm And Fuzzy'

Columbus students and guidance counselor Connie Cotrone pose in front of the finished mural with their warm fuzzies. Photo Credit: Contributed
Westlake High School sophomore Caitlyn Lyons' "warm fuzzy' mural in the Columbus lobby reminds students that "kindness is contagious." Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Doing nice things for others is becoming a way of life for students at Mount Pleasant's Columbus Elementary School since the "Warm Fuzzies" showed up.

These soft, fuzzy puffs of color have been introduced by new elementary guidance counselor Connie Cotrone to promote kindness and compassion and to make the children more aware of their actions.

Similar to bucket filling at the K-2 Hawthorne Elementary School where students fill their classroom bucket with stars for being kind, the Warm Fuzzy program rewards Columbus children who demonstrate positive actions by giving them a colorful puff ball that they add to a jar in their classroom.

Any adult who sees a child acting in a positive manner can let his or her teacher know, and that child is rewarded with a warm fuzzy. Jars are kept in each classroom, and classes will compete to see who can fill their jar first and receive an reward.

Principal Michael Cunzio feels the program is a nice continuation for students coming from Hawthorne. "It enhances the character education program by focusing on traits that supplement our anti-bullying program and help make well-rounded students," said Cunzio.

Cunzio and Cotrone want the students to be aware that "kindness is contagious," so with the help of mural artist Westlake High School sophomore Caitlyn Lyons, a "warm fuzzy" adorns the wall in the lobby, so students will see it every day as they pass by.

The children at Columbus are excited to have the program as well. "It makes you want to be nice to people," said third-grader Sophia N., who said last year at Hawthorne she sat with a friend who just got stitches and couldn't play on the playground. James L., a fourth-grader, acknowledged that school is "a really fun place," and if everyone in the entire school was nice to each other, he thinks that they would want to go to school every day — even on weekends!

Warm fuzzies aside, fourth-grader Lexi G. has a grown-up attitude and proclaimed in a serious tone, "Even if no one is around, you still should be kind." And that is exactly the goal of the Columbus' program.

Columbus Elementary School is at 580 Columbus Ave, Thornwood.

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