What a great beginning to the school year we have had — we were able to start the year with an outdoor assembly highlighting the new gazebo that Andrew Barloon designed and built as part of his Eagle Scout project. We were also able to dedicate a Buddy Bench to Helen Rehor, a longtime teacher at Central, with some of her family here to celebrate with us. Andrew is a great role model for students and we are proud he is one of ours!

Speaking of the Buddy Bench, some of you may not know what that is. We now have two Buddy Benches on the playground. This is a bench for kids to sit on when they need a friend to play with. Anyone sitting on the bench will then play with the first person who sees them and invites them to play. The idea for the Buddy Benches came from our Empathy Group, which started last year. A group of third- and fourth-graders met throughout the year to talk about empathy, what it means, and how we can be better at showing empathy to others. The idea came from a student, Miles Engstrom, and grew from there. I am so proud of the leadership our students show when we just get out of the way and let them lead!

I am excited for my second year at Central, as we are impacting students, parents and each other in so many positive ways. We are working hard this year to help our students think outside the four walls of our classroom and take their learning to the real world. Projects where students investigate real world problems, create, problem-solve and learn are going on in each corner of our building. I can’t wait to see what our kids will do! They are full of knowledge, creativity, spunk and ideas. Sometimes, the best learning that happens is when we let them do the thinking and guide them, but let them do the heavy lifting!

I look forward to working together again this year. Every day our kids amaze me, and their love and passion for helping others inspire me to be a better person. Thank you for sending your best kids to school every day! I commit to leading them to the best of my ability, and instilling a love for learning. An education is the best gift you can give to anyone — a gift that no one can take away! WE ARE CENTRAL!

Chris deNeui is principal at Central Elementary School in Nevada.