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Artwork about compassion and kindness covered the wall of the Killip Elementary School gym Tuesday evening for the school’s annual “Empathy Night,” designated to show students the importance of being kind and caring for one another.

Counselor Kate Jaffie organized the night, a tradition that began four years ago as an anti-bullying campaign.

“We turned it into a way to show the types of behavior that we actually want to see,” Jaffie said.

Students from each grade level participated in a drawing contest to make posters about empathy, and Jaffie said art and music teachers focused on themes of kindness and compassion in their classes. 

At the school-wide empathy night, students performed songs about love and kindness, and students from the martial arts program displayed some of their techniques. The school also had a food donation box to collect for the food bank, and students made cards for residents at The Peaks Senior Living Community.

“We want to show off some of the work that we do here as well as give back to the community,” Jaffie said.

Students in fifth grade learned about empathy themes in literature, making plot diagrams of stories they invented about using empathy as a plot climax.

Teachers displayed the diagrams and talked with younger students about what the stories meant.

In the corner of the gym, students used construction paper, markers, colored pencils and pipe cleaners to make homemade holiday cards for senior citizens.

Meg Leander, a spokeswoman for the Peaks, said the residents are always happy to receive cards from children, especially because some might not have family nearby.

“It fills a gap for them,” Leander said. “It makes everyone happy and everyone gets a kick out of them, they’re just so charming.”

The students made about 20 cards for the Peaks residents, decorated with drawings of trees, snowmen, reindeer and stars.

Second-grader Autumn Somers was one of two poster contest design winners, taking first place in the kindergarten through second grade category.

Her poster, which was a drawing of two kids playing at Bushmaster Park, depicted one child inviting the other to join in a game, which Somers said showed empathy by trying to make others feel good.

Her poster said “Empathy is a feeling, like sad, mad, happy or glad.”

Somers, who drew the poster Wednesday morning, said she learned about empathy in school when she was in first grade.

“Empathy means being happy and making others happy,” she said.

The reporter can be reached at or 556-2249.

“We turned it into a way to show the types of behavior that we actually want to see."

Kate Jaffie, Killip school counselor


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City Government and Development Reporter

Corina Vanek covers city government, city growth and development for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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