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Curry Elementary Celebrates Tempe Police Officers and Public Responders
Lindsey Matykiewicz’s fourth-graders recently presented a basket of “Apples of Appreciation” to a Tempe Police Officer to share with her colleagues at the Tempe Police Station. But these weren’t just any apples.
Every year since 9/11, Matykiewicz has taken a moment to reflect on how blessed she is to live in a country where people help each other no matter what the sacrifice may be.
“Watching the events of 9/11 recapped on TV recently reminds me to be thankful for the people we have in our community that help keep us safe, direct us from wrong, and help us when we are hurt,” explains Matykiewicz. “I think it's important for young students to know who those trusted adults are in our community and that it's important to say ‘thank you’ sometimes for no reason at all.”
"Apples of Appreciation" started a few years ago at Broadmor Elementary with a Johnny Appleseed unit Matykiewicz’s teaching team put together. Being in charge of the writing section, Matykiewicz came up with the alliteration "Apples of Appreciation."
“We originally handed out apple-shaped paper with thank-you notes and gave them to teachers,” Matykiewicz explains. Now, at her new school, Curry Elementary, the “Apples of Appreciation” project has taken on added meaning – a twist of sorts.
“Since I have moved on to a new school, I decided to modify ‘Apples of Appreciation’ a little,” says Matykiewicz. It’s the same apple-shaped paper with sweet thank-you notes from students, but she has added a basket full of real and delicious apples to share with our first responders in the community.
“Fifteen years ago, I was student teaching at Curry when 9/11 happened,” Matykiewicz remembers. “The day will forever be burnt in my mind,” she says. “Being here again, my first year at Curry since being hired in Tempe Elementary, was a bit emotional. I remember that we only had 11 kids in our class that horrific day. No one wanted to go outside, and we all had questions of unknown for our daily routine. But I remember feeling safe on campus and was willing to help the ‘littles’ in any way I could.”
Matykiewicz wasn’t hoping to gain anything from her “Apples of Appreciation” project. She just wanted to give a little back to the local police officers who protect and serve her community. And it didn’t stop there. Ms. Maty’s class (as she is called) also did the same thing for the Tempe Fire Department, Station #3, and the Tempe St. Lukes Emergency Room staff.
“I truly believe in paying it forward,” Matykiewicz explains. “It's been paid to me before, and it truly blessed my life.”
Matykiewicz was able to take her daughter, a fifth-grader at Broadmor Elementary, with her to the fire station and the emergency room at Tempe St. Lukes to deliver the other two baskets. It was a great way for she and her daughter to connect, and her daughter saw a project she and her students did in her classroom.
When Ms. Maty’s students were asked how it made them feel to do this for the police officers, fire department, and emergency room staff, Fourth-Grader Ethan Fenner says, “It made me feel good in my heart and that I was doing something really big – it made me feel good about me.”
Mia Hutchinson added, “I learned that caring is being kind. It made me happy!”
“I learned that caring is really important and to never be alone in the streets at night,” said Manolo Gonzalez Saucedo.“Apples of Appreciation” is just one one of the many ways Curry Elementary celebrates those that protect and serve our community!