Gratitude at Grace

Image of the chain of gratitude (displayed at the Middle School) provided by Nate Barkow ‘25 

Thanksgiving may have passed, but gratitude is still in the air. 

In the bustling halls of Grace Church School, where the pursuit of knowledge intertwines with the daily beat of school life, a powerful force quietly shapes the atmosphere – gratitude. 

Beyond the mundane facets of school-life like pop quizzes and homework, this feeling of appreciation weaves its way through the structure of Grace, influencing relationships, attitudes, and overall well-being.  

As students anxiously awaited Thanksgiving, a palpable sense of excitement filled the air. Beyond the anticipation of a well-deserved break and the smell of home-cooked meals, there lay a deeper sentiment – the recognition of gratitude within the school community. 

Annually, the entire school gets together for the Thanksgiving chapel. The Thanksgiving chapel is a space where gratitude takes center stage. Through music, reflections, and messages of thanks, the Grace community takes a moment to reflect on this holiday and its meaning. This tradition fosters a sense of unity and reinforces the importance of gratitude in our community. 

As Robbie Pennoyer stood before the pews of students, he shared heartfelt words. “The key to happiness is gratitude.” 

Mr. Pennoyer, the head of the school, shared that although Thanksgiving only comes once a year, we should be sharing our “thanksgiving” daily. 

Next, Zamira F. ‘24, the student-body leader, took the stage. She reflected on her thankfulness for the people who have contributed to the foundation of the Grace community.

“I feel grateful every day that I have a safe space at school,”  Zamira said, recounting memories of Daron Forbes and Jose Santana, the high school security officers, highlighting their kind and caring attitudes towards the entire school. 

Zamira also thanked Grace’s cooking staff for “providing us a space where we can learn, knowing we will be fed.” 

At the end of the Chapel, Grace’s lower school students walked down the aisle with colorful pieces of paper linked together as a chain of gratitude. The chain stretched from the beginning of the pews to the back doors, tangibly displaying the community’s messages of thanks throughout the building. 

The lower school was not the only community that decided to present messages of appreciation. In the high school, senior advisors wrote messages of gratitude, and the sophomores started a gratitude chain in the second-floor commons.

The chains in the sophomore nook shared a heartfelt message of gratitude towards the Grace community. Many of the notes included messages of appreciation for teachers. 

Sally P. ‘26 said, “I’m thankful for Mr. Todd for being always supportive of my ideas. He puts my creativity and joy first.” 

More than three notes recounted gratitude for Alexandra Scott, a chemistry teacher and advisor. One note said, “We’re thankful for Ms. Scott for always having her door open and dedicating her time to help us understand chemistry.”

Similarly to Zamira’s thanks, Daron Forbes and Jose Santana were repeatedly thanked for their warmth and dedication to helping the student body. The maintenance staff also appeared in many notes for paying close attention to the needs of the community. 

Advisors who undeniably support their advisees, and aid them whenever need be were acknowledged by Amelia M. ‘27. She is thankful for the “advisors at school who are always there for you.”

As Zoe Z. ‘26 filled out her chain, her face lit up brightly as she wrote, “I’m thankful for my friends and the happiness I share with them.”

The guidance counselors who support the student body unconditionally through the rough and tough were recognized by Stella L-G. ‘27. “I’m thankful that the guidance counselors always have the door open for you,” she said.

Grace is bustling with admirable students and faculty. However, outside of school, gratitude should be recognized as well. Mirabelle K. ‘25, said, “I’m thankful for my cats.”

Other messages emphasized the privilege of living in New York City and attending Grace Church School.

The recognition of gratitude brought an even more profound sense of love and care for the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving might be confined to a single day on the calendar, but it should catalyze a year-round practice of acknowledging the blessings surrounding us. 

As we navigate the academic terrain together, let our hearts be open to the beauty of giving thanks, making our school not just a place of learning but also a host of gratitude and warmth.

Cassie Ball ‘26, the author, is a staff writer for The Grace Gazette.