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Poland apple tree project stands for collective good citizenship

Nov. 18, 2020


 A paper apple tree with paper apples on it where students wrote examples of good citizenship

Poland Central School District elementary students wrote examples of good citizenship on paper apples they decorated to be added to a paper apple tree on display in the hallway by the elementary entrance to show collective good citizenship through a project organized by Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Heather DuPont, the Poland safety patrol officer.

POLAND –  An apple tree made out of paper now hangs in the hallway near the elementary entrance at Poland Central School District as a reminder to students that they all form a strong citizenship together despite being separated in their classrooms this school year due to COVID-19 regulations.

Students from more than a dozen elementary classrooms decorated paper apples and wrote ways they have been or could be good citizens on the apples that hang on the tree.

Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Heather DuPont, the Poland safety patrol officer, organized the project and said the tree display helps teach that citizenship is both about your individual positive actions and how people build a positive community together.

“They see that being a citizen is more than just doing good deeds,” she said. “You’re one apple on a tree.”

DuPont organized the apple tree project with elementary teachers through the virtual Morning Meetings that elementary teachers have the option of participating in once per week this school year. The meetings used to be held in person on Mondays, but switched to virtual this school year and are organized by Assistant Principal Gina Smith, school social worker Kimberlee Schneider and school counselor Jan Kochan. Poland art teacher Alison Faggiano created the paper apple tree, and DuPont hanged it in the hallway and printed and cut out paper apples for students to decorate.

DuPont, a 2004 Poland graduate, started as Poland’s safety patrol officer in November 2019. She participates in the Morning Meetings by providing videos to students and organizing projects for students connected to the theme of the week such as making the apple tree for “citizenship,” creating paper suns for “kindness” and writing things students are thankful for on paper leaves for “gratitude.”

“Each week is something different,” she said.

DuPont said she is thankful that the Morning Meetings organizers invited her to participate.

Last school year, while making her rounds, DuPont would see children in the hallways and in the cafeteria and would have many chances to interact with them.

“This year, I don’t have that with the little ones,” she said. “They stay in the classroom due to COVID restrictions.”

The Morning Meetings videos and the apple tree project helps keep her connection with students because they can say they saw her in the video or saw the apple tree in the hallway, she said.

“They can see me as a familiar face, so I’m not just that sheriff’s deputy in the hallway,” she said. “It’s also kind of an ice-breaker for them to talk to me about, so it’s not just, ‘Hey, I saw you walking in the hallway today.’”

DuPont’s Morning Meetings video about citizenship covered what it means and actions people can take to be good citizens. Students wrote their ideas on apples such as helping someone else at school or picking up litter.

“The idea of the project was to think of a way to just get kids’ minds thinking,” she said.

Putting everyone’s apples together on the tree also shows the collective good citizenship at the school and gives students a chance to be part of something with other classrooms during an unusual school year, DuPont said.

“They each feel like they had a hand in it,” she said. “They go by that tree every day. To see something positive is a good thing.”


 Paper citizenship tree hanging on the hallway wall