Using their woodsy, magical school mascot as the theme, Geneva Elementary School students delivered garden gnomes and thank you cards to their surrounding Geneva neighbors on Earth Day to show their school appreciation. An important outcome of The Bellingham Promise states that our students will develop into “respectful and compassionate humans” and “well-rounded community members engaged with the broader world,” and this recent spring activity demonstrated these attributes in Geneva students.

As a community, the school wanted to show gratitude to their nearby neighbors who may have been impacted by the increase in traffic and the long lines in the drop-off and pick-up times during the past two years of the pandemic.

Working with her classroom teachers, Geneva principal Sharece Steinkamp summarized the intention of the spring gnome project.

“During the pandemic, we relied upon the grace of our neighbors as we used modified dismissal procedures as families chose to drive their children rather than use buses during COVID times,” Steinkamp shared. “Our elementary-aged students were unable to be fully-vaccinated until January or February of this year.”

“With two car pick-up lines each day, our neighbors were impacted 20 minutes or more every morning and afternoon,” she continued. “Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, despite the extra traffic and inconvenience, our neighbors stuck it out and put the safety of our students first.”

Geneva Elementary families and children collected and donated 21 garden gnomes, one from each classroom, to thank the neighbors for their compassion and neighborly support during the pandemic. Each classroom chose a neighbor to appreciate through thank you cards, thoughtful messages and, above all, a garden gnome. Some classrooms left a poster, some a book of poetry, while others chose to make individual cards celebrating their compassionate neighbors. The Geneva students were fully engaged with the project sharing their pride in their school mascot the gnome, a mascot that represents good luck, and creating goodwill all around them.

“Every yard surrounding the school now has a special garden gnome peeking out,” Steinkamp shared, “celebrating both Earth Day as well as our Geneva neighborhood community.”

In addition to the gnome and messages, a Gnome poem, courtesy of teacher Laura Smith, was given out to every home visited. It reads:

Your neighborly kindness has helped out

our gnomes

as we welcomed them back to their Geneva


We know the pandemic has been especially


so here is your own gnome to put in your


So thank you dear neighbors

we hope that you know

your kindness and patience helps our

children to grow.


#GenevaGnome #BhamPromise #well-roundedcommunitymembersengagedwiththebroaderworld

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