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As one fourth grade class considered all that goes into creating a healthy classroom culture, the value of Friendship seemed to stand out more than any other. Friendship is one of “The Wapiti Way” character traits and is a familiar conversation for these students, but this spring they decided to dig deep and find out what it really means to be a friend. Root by root and branch by branch, students created a Friendship Tree to show what they have learned.

The soil represents the best or safest places to make friends — like school, for instance! The roots represent how a friendship can begin — with an introduction, having things in common, or experiencing hard times together. The trunk of the tree contains qualities of strong friendships such as honesty, trust, and laughter. The leaves and fruit convey the benefits of having friends — social interactions, a listening ear, emotional support. The sun and rain represent what it takes to keep our friendships going — things like communication, spending time together, checking in, and including each other in decisions or activities.

There was no better opportunity for students to practice their friendship skills than while creating the Friendship Tree itself. They were able to experience “in real time” just how important these abilities were to the success of their group project — especially communication, collaboration, and inclusiveness. Not to mention, laughter!