Fifth Graders ‘Pay it Forward’

Forest Lake Fifth Graders ‘Pay it Forward’

When was the last time you were moved and motivated by a book? For Nicole Pataky’s fifth grade class at Forest Lake, Catherine Ryan Hide’s national bestseller “Pay it Forward” not only spawned altruism on the school campus but will be a book the students will remember their entire lives. 

After reading the novel about Trevor McKinney, a student who accepts his social studies teacher’s challenge to come up with a plan to change the world, the students discussed ways they, too, can affect change. The students decided to create a paper chain to reflect altruistic deeds on campus. Each time a student is affected by a positive gesture, the student for whom the deed was intended can make a link for the chain. As of June 7, there are 1,040 links to a chain that currently stretches the length of the school building. The plan is to create a chain long enough to spread through all of the hallways. 

Ms. Pataky said the students, like the character Trevor, were originally worried that their project wouldn’t work. The completely student-driven project, however, has been more of a success than anyone could have imagined, Principal Jessica Zimmer said. 

“The chain has become a visual representation in the school of how students have been helped by others,” Ms. Pataky said. “The students will remember this project for a lifetime.”