By Cindy Adams


Collaboration can tap into the creativity within each of us. There’s something about spinning off the ideas of others that produces impressive results. Throw in a little competition, and it gets even better! Ask the staff and students at Harrisonburg Minnick and they can show you what teamwork looks like. In this case, it looks like a FIRST PLACE RIBBON!

The Harrisonburg Fire Department regularly visits the school to teach about fire safety. They also hold an annual art contest. This year’s theme was Don’t Wait. Plan Your Escape. Students from the 4th and 5th-grade classes tackled this project during Ms. Kia’s Enrichment class.

"They really enjoyed seeing their ideas and hard work come together when the project was complete," said Jennifer Samuels, one of the assistant teachers who spearheaded the project. "Their project turned out better than any of us imagined. They were quick to embrace the concept, share their ideas, work collaboratively, and get it done!"

Not only did the four students creatively envision a room with an escape plan, but they also fully understood why it was important. That was the key.

"I enjoyed seeing the students so invested in working on a group project," said Jennifer Hitt, Harrisonburg Minnick Principal. "They did such an amazing job practicing teamwork and capitalizing on one another’s ideas!"

It wasn’t just the Minnick principal who thought the students’ work was amazing. Their entry received the Chief’s Award – the top prize out of more than 240 submissions. And that prize includes a ride around the neighborhood in a fire truck.

"We are so appreciative of Harrisonburg City for including our school in the contest," Jennifer Hitt said. "Ms. Kia & Ms. Samuels, who led this activity, deserve a huge shout-out. We are incredibly proud of our students’ performance, from beginning to end."

The tangible reward does, indeed, look like a first-place ribbon, but the take-away is much greater. It is the sense of shared experience, enriched camaraderie, and the joy of teamwork.

The blue ribbon and the fire truck ride are the icing on top!