Garfield students touching hearts

Ponca City Now - December 12, 2014 10:34 am

In today’s world, when most people think children are more disrespectful than ever, Ponca City Public School students are showing their true colors.

Students like those at Garfield Elementary School are touching hearts and making a difference.

Many people have started noticing that when a funeral procession goes by Garfield’s playground, all of the students outside stop what they are doing and put their hand on their heart or hands behind their back.

“I started getting phone calls, emails, and seeing posts on social media about this, so I decided to look into it," said Mary Ladd, Public Information Coordinator for the Ponca City Public School district .

"One of the first things I did was call Trout Funeral Home to see if they had ever noticed it. I spoke with manager Mark Riley who immediately knew what I was talking about."

Riley said he had received many comments from people, including grieving families, who say it really touched their hearts.

"I have personally driven one of the cars in the funeral procession and witnessed it myself," he said. "The staff members at Trout have all noted how nice it is to see young people showing respect for others they may not have ever known, especially in this day and age where in our society at large, respect and concern for others seems to be waning. I believe it is not only a reflection of our schools, but also represents the respect and kindness of our community.”

Riley said he received comments from two families Trout served recently that noticed the respect from the Garfield children.

Rick Steichen, whose aunt passed away, said, "It was absolutely wonderful and a great tribute to those who have died and their families. It’s just fantastic!"

Another client, Dennis Underside, whose mother passed away, noted that he was comforted knowing others were showing respect. He said he was brought back to his own childhood when his father would pull over, get out of the car and put his hand on his heart. Underside said that gave him an example to follow.

There have been several posts on the Ponca City Review Facebook page.

“I was in a funeral procession leaving St. Mary’s Church and we drove past Garfield School," Brooke Dyer wrote. " The students at recess all stopped and put their hands over their hearts. If you see someone from the school or one of the students, please pat them on the back and let them know how nice and respectful they are!”

Cheri Liegerot Rowland recently posted “It was my brother, Mark Liegerot’s, funeral procession and I will be sending a thank you note to those sweet kids and the school!!! It touched our hearts and we appreciated it more than those children will ever know!!

“My brother Mark would have loved it because he loved kids and especially respectful kids! All of you parents of these Garfield students should be VERY PROUD of your kids! That simple act of kindness and respect made us all smile on a very sad day, so please give your kids a big hug from our family!”

Fifth grade teacher Denise Baldwin explained how the tradition started.

“A few years ago, we had a lesson about respect, and we were discussing how cars are supposed to pull over when an ambulance goes by out of respect for the sick person needing quick medical attention. We also discussed how people are supposed to pull over for funeral processions out of respect for the family who lost a loved one," Baldwin said.

"I didn’t think anything about it, because it was like every other lesson we teach our kids, until the following recess," she said. "A funeral procession came by from St. Mary’s Church, and a lot of the students stopped what they were doing and stood with their hands at their side or over their heart. Ever since that day, more and more students started participating, and it has become almost the entire recess crowd.”

Ladd said the district is very proud of the students and the teachers who teach them the importance of respect.

“I asked Garfield teachers to ask some of their students to write down why they do this, and I received a packet of student hand-written not es," Ladd said .

Ladd shared some of the letters, exactly as they were written:

Nyree Johnson – 5 th grade, wrote, “I stop and drop whatever I am playing with and I put my hand over my heart and stand still. I do it because I am showing respect to the family that has lost a love one or a close friend. When I am standing there I am saying in my head ‘Lord please help this family get through this sad day.’ If someone is not putting their hand over their heart and they are not being quiet I tell them to just be respectful. Rest in peace to that family. I hope that family can stay strong for that funeral procession.”

Gloria Gomez – 4th grade, wrote, “I put my hand on my heart because I want to respect those people and to make them cheer up and because they can remember the person the good person who died. And it can make a person fill very good and can make them be delightful and pleased and peaceful and comfortable and can fill awsome.”

Daniel McCabe – 5th grade, included a drawing that showed the Hearse with a coffin inside and a person crying. He wrote, “I make sure to stop what I am doing, put my hand on my heart, and pray for their family and friends. When they have past by you can go back to what you were doing or stay and pray.”

Austin Day – 5th grade, wrote, “I stop what I’m doing and put my hands behind my back. I pray for the family that lost their beloved one and to make it home safe. I think about all the fun they probably had in the past and wait pationtly untell all the cars pass.”

Lydia Terrell – 5th grade, wrote, “You need to put you hand over your hart and stop what your doing, or you can stand there quietly. The reason you need to is to show respect. When that happends it means someone has lost a family member. That’s sad and I feel sorrow for that family. You know when it happends when a line of cars come down the street with a cop in the front and a cop in the back and all the cars have both blinkers on. So next time you see a funeral procession you know what to do.”

Seth T. Eddinger – 5th grade, wrote, “I stop what I am doing and put my hand over my heart and pray for there family and hope they can get through that rough time. I pray for them to show honor and respect. I waite for all the cars to go by and then I start to play again. All day I think about that family.”

Prisila Longoria – 5th grade, wrote, “Everybody outside puts there hands on their hart or stands there quietly. We do this to show respect to the family that lost their loved ones. Many people loose their love ones and we try to show respect. Our school is one block away from Saint Mary’s Church, and we try to show the most respect we can to the family that lost a loved one. We treat their family like it’s ours.”

Tennyson Rhodd – 4th grade, wrote, “I think why you put your’e hand over yor’e heart is because they know that you care for the pearson that past away and they know you have respect and there family members get happy cuz they new we cared.”

Mitchell DeRoin – 4th grade, wrote, “Becuase to b respectful when some died becuase it is very very nice to do that when some died and it makes people feel like we’re smart and were doing the right thang when a funeral is going on.”

Addy Gibson – 4th grade, wrote, “Because it could be a soldier or to tell them they are in a better place now and the reson we put our hand over our heart because its respectful.”

Tristain Linck – 4th grade, wrote, “To respect and to show them that we caer about them and salut them.”

Kaden Warrior – 5th grade, wrote, “You are respectful and you put your hand behind your back or over your heart and pray for them. You don’t play and say there’s a lot of police cars – no you stand quietly. Never to that during a funeral.”

Romie Rau – 4th grade, wrote, “When you put your hand over your heart for the flag you respect that flat so when you put your hand over your heart you respect that funeral and the people feel happy because we respect them.”

Devon Shaw – 5th grade, wrote, “After lunch when we are going outside for recess there was a funeral coming by so I hurried up and put my hand on my heart. I did this to be respectful for someone who was going through a bad time.”

Matthew McCabe – 5th grade, wrote, “When we are playing outside and a black car drives by. We continue playing. Then two or more black cars drive by. Then immediately we all turn and face the car, until they are gone. Then we start playing again.”

Aliana Hand – 5th grade, wrote, “Immediately you should take your beane cap off and put it over your heart. R.I.P. It is sad when a funereal goes by so I think good luck. I’ll pray for you with love.”

Silvar Durbin – 5th grade, wrote, “I put my hand over my heart and I pray that their kid or older person will be ok and. That they will live and if not they will be somewhere safe. And I pray all the family members will be okay. Rest in Piecs.”

Tyson Daine – 5th grade, wrote, “I put my stuff on the ground and put my hand on heart to show respect. I pray when comes by I pray that that familys are ok or the kids are okay.”

Dolton Hermes, 5th grade, wrote, “You take off your hat and pray immediately. Some times you may feel the person or family sorrow and you might pray to god to help the family thourgh the lost ones.”

Mariah Cobb – 4th grade, wrote, “I put my hand on my hert because I am sorry for them. And it is the patriotic hand. 1 more reason is it is a nice thing.”

Jaydon Coburn – 4th grade, wrote, Because your respecting that person and it makes people fill good because there sad and you shold fill sad about what there going threw and respects the people and it noes that you care about it to.”


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