URBANA — Originally, the video that administrators and the student council at Urbana Middle School were putting together to thank health care workers for their selflessness during the coronavirus pandemic was supposed to be a short, simple message.
But when Principal Joe Wiemelt and his staff sent a letter home to families requesting messages of gratitude, they were overwhelmed with the response.
“We had so many people submitting messages of gratitude and thanks that we said, ‘We need to make this into a bigger thing,’” Wiemelt said.
When it was finished, the video was 18 minutes of students and staff heaping praise upon health care workers with video messages that included written messages dispersed throughout.
Aiden Hundley thanked workers for allowing his cousin to be born safely. Aubrey Calhoun talked about a family member who gives COVID-19 tests. Lavie Maisha thanked her family’s doctor, who is retiring.
After receiving the video, Carle Foundaiton Hospital President and CEO Jim Leonard called it a “priceless gift,” and Julianna Sellet, vice president of community health initiatives, responded that it was “absolutely wonderful and incredibly thoughtful.”
In the video, students and staff relate their personal experiences with health care workers, including some who have family who work in the field, and others who simply wanted to offer their appreciation.
“I think a lot of times we hear that each generation gets less and less respectful or has less character development,” Wiemelt said. “I think it just shows us that our young people, our UMS scholars, really care about their community, about the world they live in, and they showed us in this video how much they really appreciate each other and the hardships they’ve gone through.”
The video goes along with the school’s yearlong lessons of character development, social/emotional well-being and support for one another. It’s the kind of lesson that simply wouldn’t have happened in pre-pandemic days.
“This type of activity has evolved this year with having so much remote learning and not having all students in the building every day,” Wiemelt said. “So we’ve been trying to do things to keep students connected to the school community every day
“What has come out of it is that students have really enjoyed showing and learning about compassion and grace and service to others.”