When her fourth-grade class took first place in the big cookie dough sale at Frontier Elementary School, Cynthia Chovich's students were excited about the pizza party that would be their reward.
"A pizza party is pretty much the ultimate experience for kids," Chovich said. But then something happened that proved to her all over again that you can never underestimate children.
"Someone in the class said, 'There are kids in New York who lost their parents and may never have pizza again. Why don't we donate the money a pizza party costs to the Red Cross.'
"We vote on everything in class, so we took a vote. It passed 25-0," she said. "To have the kids come up with this was just a very emotional experience for me."
When she wrote about what her students had done in a newsletter that goes home to parents, R and R Pizza Manager Pam Way read about the generous gesture by Chovich's class.
"My granddaughter, Dakota, goes to FES," Way said. "Those kids worked hard and they deserved that pizza party. We sent over four extra larges and sodas, so they could donate the money and still have the party."
What impressed Chovich most was the spontaneity of what her fourth graders did.
"Of course, we had talked about the disaster, but they came up with this on their own," Chovich said. "It's amazing how these kinds of things touch kids. When I was in Hawaii, I met a Pearl Harbor survivor who was three at the time of that attack, and his reaction as a kid was about the same."
Students at FES have made American flags for local businesses to display and they've painted flag T-shirts in class. One fourth grader, Kayla Bowman, even set up a five-gallon water jug for cash donations.
Chovich thinks the anthrax scare will generate yet another round of concern among her students. But she is confident they will once again prove resilient.
"I've had these kids for two years, and they're just a wonderful group," she said. "There is just no better job than being a teacher."