A little bit of sunshine can go a long way.
Christian Lorenzo, a Fawn Mountain Elementary paraprofessional, knows this firsthand as a member of the school’s “Sunshine Committee.”
Tasked with boosting school morale by organizing activities for staff and students, Lorenzo aims to bring a bit of celebration to each day during an abnormal school year. He also continues to work with a few special education students at Fawn Mountain.
“I try every day to think of something that we can do positive for each kid, and each staff member, of course,” Lorenzo told the Daily News on Monday, standing outside a classroom of first-graders.
With new mitigation measures in place at the school, the students and faculty don’t get to mix as much as in past years, according to Lorenzo. These activities are a way to bring the school together.
For Lorenzo, it’s also an opportunity to give back to the school that helped him as a student — alongside his former teachers who are now his co-workers.
“They helped my family out and I want to help (the students) out,” Lorenzo said, noting that Fawn Mountain is a “family oriented” school.
“End of September, I started doing this committee,” he said. “There’s about eight, 10 people (involved).”
But Lorenzo is the only one to host a daily solo dance party. Twice a day, Lorenzo can be seen grooving to music at the school’s entryway, welcoming students in at the start of class and waving goodbye during dismissal.
“I do music at the beginning of the school and I do music at the end of school, so that brings the kids (in) happy and brings good moods, and there’s a lot of things with music that really helps kids understand, you know, ‘We’re here at school, let’s have fun, but let’s also learn,’” Lorenzo said.
Each Friday, Lorenzo also organizes small activities for staff and students.
Lorenzo said that the Friday morning “snack drawing” is met with great anticipation from students.
Each Friday, Lorenzo draws the name of a Fawn Mountain class that will receive a special snack the next school day.
“I pull out a class name and they get to pick a snack on Monday,” Lorenzo said. “It gets the kids here on Monday and it gets them to think about something to look forward to that’s positive.”
“When I call their name on Friday in the morning, they are so excited,” Lorenzo continued. “Even if it’s just popcorn or pretzels, they’re just so excited to be here. I feel like they just miss it so much. It’s the socializing, it’s socializing with your peers, it’s talking out your problems with kids your age; they miss that from those three months they’ve been gone. They need to be in an environment where educators and paras … they just need positive reinforcement.”
The “Sunshine Committee” also brings fun for the faculty, with such treats as a “toast” food bar, raffles or a homemade pie drawing. Lorenzo and the Sunshine Committee also purchase goods from local businesses. Recently, staff members enjoyed a round of scones from the 55 North bakery and cafe.
Lorenzo joked that treats are celebrating that “(staff) made it through a week of school and we didn’t get shut down.”
“I’m just really trying to get all these teachers in a positive mood,” Lorenzo said. “Because there’s a lot of work to be done about this whole mask thing, and trying to keep everyone safe.”
“I’ve seen a couple smiles I’ve never seen before, and it’s nice, because they feel so appreciated,” Lorenzo said. “Just simple little things that we do. Even if it’s not sunny outside, it’s sunny in Fawn Mountain, I always say.”