Highland Elementary in Ridgeland and Salvation Army, Mississippi National Guard Contractor Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, and the City of Ridgeland

Duration of partnership: 1 year
Volunteers: 644 students, 40 staff, and numerous parents
Impacts 644 students

Highland Elementary in Ridgeland, Miss., is constantly striving to enhance our students’ future. At Highland we understand the importance of shaping our students’ character and have implemented a plan to aid us in this goal. Children must learn to become good citizens and to give back to their community in every possible way.
As a school we have started a program, Highland’s Hands, to help us accomplish this goal.  The program is developing interdependence between the students of Highland and the community of Ridgeland. We work with the City of Ridgeland, community leaders, and various non-profit organizations in order to serve our local population. The main goal of this initiative is to teach our children the importance of working together for the common good of society.
We have worked with several community partners throughout our inaugural year. Partnering with the City of Ridgeland, the Salvation Army, and the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program has allowed our students to fully understand their impact on the community of Ridgeland and in the world. These partnerships have been the reason we have completed so many events in just one year. We have had the opportunity to work with wonderful people who are encouraged by the generosity of our children. The students have been excited this year to help others and learn along the way. The kids are coming up with ideas daily that can be used to better the world in which we live! It is so rejuvenating to hear that an 8-year-old has plans for the world’s future.
As we come together as a school to better our community, we have bettered ourselves. The kids are taking on responsibility for themselves, their schoolwork, and their future. We are instilling a lifelong desire to give back to their community. Watching the children take ownership of their community is so rewarding to parents, teachers, and members of Ridgeland. Our kids have been thanked and congratulated by many people including neighbors, the mayor, and local pastors. We often receive letters from those that have seen our work and truly appreciate what the school is doing to teach our children to be productive members of society.
We at Highland Elementary know that this program is impacting our students and everyone they share their goals with. We have even seen them get excited about surprising another grade level by cleaning their bathroom! That takes some tough stomachs and a lot vision for the future. We could not be more proud of our kids and how they have taken charge of a mission to better the world. They have truly embraced our motto of “Showing kindness through kids to others!”
National Citizenship Day on September 17, 2011 - Our children practiced being good citizens by cleaning up the Ridgeland Multi-Use Trail. Home Depot to donate the materials needed to clean the trail. For the month of October students at Highland Elementary collected new stuffed animals to become “Battalion Buddies”. Over three hundred buddies were then given to local children of deployed military personnel through the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. The project Highland’s Hands completed before Christmas was for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Highland’s Hands raised over $1300 for local Angel Tree children. Arts for Autism planned for April 24, 2012.
The main goal of Highland’s Hands is to teach our children the importance of working together for the common good of society. Our kids have learned honesty, selflessness, positive social values, morals, and many more life skills. Highland’s Hands has impacted students and adults alike and shown us what is truly important is today’s world. We are important to each other and nothing can take away our will to help those in need.