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Let's Fly a Kite


Many in-person students have struggled to re-engage socially after a year of virtual learning.

MLMS students flying kites
“Some of my students [are] having a hard time talking,” shared Jana Aragon, 8th grade teacher at Mira Loma Middle School. “They don’t really know each other.”

To bridge the divide, Mrs. Aragon visited a 99 Cents Only store and purchased plastic kites, the makings of a fun, socially distanced activity. During breaks from in-person Advisory, her students cheer each other on and compete to see who can fly their kite the highest. They share laughs when a change in the wind sends a kite diving into the grass. They open up to each other. “It really warms my heart because we’re just having a blast,” said Mrs. Aragon. “It has been breaking the ice.”

“I never actually flew a kite [before], but I’m a natural,” shared Charles, a Mira Loma 8th grader. Then he looked over to his kite, which had been carried away by the wind, the string now tangled up. “Unless you [count] what happened right there.”

“We love the kites,” shared Toni Fletcher, who teaches Advisory alongside Mrs. Aragon. “I had several kids today tell me their parents made them [attend in-person], and they’re glad they came because they got to be around other kids and do fun things.”

Ms. Qaqish, Ms. Aragon, and Ms. Boules holding the connection rings
Above all, the Mira Loma teachers want their students to feel connected - to each other and to their school. That is why, when distance learning started, Mrs. Aragon implemented another unique activity: Using construction paper, she made colorful “connection rings” and hung them up behind her during virtual instruction. Then she asked students to make their own and submit pictures as part of an assignment. ​“It was really helpful because we all felt connected,” said Mrs. Aragon.

The idea spread beyond her classroom. At one point, the Mira Loma staff came together and made enough rings to stretch from one school gate to the other. “Anybody driving on Steve Street knew that we were here, still connected with our students,” shared Mary Boules, Principal.

These are just a few examples of activities inspired by the unique culture at Mira Loma Middle School, one driven by the habits of the mind and heart. According to the Coalition of Essential Schools, habits of the mind “help people develop their critical and creative thinking skills” while habits of the heart “help people care for, identify with, and honor others.” Habits of the mind include persisting; thinking flexibly; and listening with understanding and empathy. Habits of the heart include patience, openness, and presence - like the presence of mind needed to fly a kite in strong winds.

Last year, after the habits were incorporated into the Advisory period, “kindness spread all over campus,” said Nadia Qaqish, Assistant Principal. Student behavior improved, and the habits are now aiding the transition back to in-person instruction.

MLMS students holding habits of heart“It’s very important for [students] to have an open mind and an open heart,” said Ms. Boules. Rather than punish kids for not knowing how to behave, the Principal and her team want to give them the opportunity to learn, especially during the tumultuous middle school years. 

Mira Loma students see the benefits, too. As kites flew overhead, Preslee, an 8th grader, shared, “Habits of the heart encourage me to do better in life.”