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Student Friendships Are Sweetest Treat Of All

Student dressing up a gingerbread housePequenakonck Elementary School was filled with sweetness this week, not only from frosting and candy but also from the hearts of the students who collaborated to create gingerbread houses. Teachers Michele Grossman, Jane Burdett, and Kathy McGregor organized the event to bring together the Structured Teaching Education Program students, their fourth-grade friends, and their families for holiday fun.

After welcoming the excited crowd, Grossman said, "Every day, we get to witness the incredible joy of your children spending time together, so we wanted to bring everybody together to witness and share in that joy."

As students spread brightly-colored frosting and carefully lined up rows of marshmallows, the lively atmosphere reflected the friendships nurtured throughout the school year in an ongoing class partnership. "I feel proud and happy that I have Arblin as a friend. Playing with him taught me different ways to express my feelings," said fourth grader Ryan as he balanced a graham cracker chimney.

"I've realized that as I am teaching them, I am teaching myself too," said his classmate Kaylee, who cherishes the connections she's building with the STEP students during recess and classes.

"This is an amazing program. It's been surreal to see how the kids connected with each other," said parent Tashbee Shabbir. At a class picnic last spring, she was delighted when her daughter uncharacteristically rushed to embrace her friends.

With extravagantly adorned gingerbread houses as examples of their spirited teamwork, Grossman closed by thanking the students, "We grow because of you all the time."