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School Smarts

Nine-year-old Annika asked this question: "What is one thing that you have learned at school outside of class?"

These girls shared their thoughts:

I started middle school this year. I stuck with the same group of friends so that I could stay in my comfort zone, and I had my guard up. A lot of people tried to be friends with me, but I ignored them. One day, I looked around and realized that variety is the spice of life! Now I have a lot of new friends.
–Nicole, age 11, Massachusetts

I've learned the value of self-respect. If you beat yourself up because you got one math problem wrong, you won't be very happy. But if you can, say, "That's OK. I'll work harder next time." If you respect yourself, others will respect you, too.
–Finley, age 10, South Carolina

I'm home-schooled. In my 4-H club for home-schoolers, I'm the health chairperson. That means that I get to tell my group about making healthy choices. Being the chairperson has taught me about responsibility because every month, I have to give a speech about how to stay healthy.
–Destiny, age 12, Louisiana

This lesson took me a while to figure out, but teachers who are hard on me aren't out to get me. They just want to help me be a better person.
–Juleen, age 11, Utah

Something I've learned outside of class is to never run in the hallways. If you do, you'll get into big trouble!
–Camila, age 10, Florida

My school's staff is so nice. I've learned that they care about me not only as a student but also as a person. I think that kids work harder and act better in school when they know that people care about them.
–Bianca, age 9, Washington

During recess, a bunch of kids were playing soccer. I was too embarrassed to play because I didn't think I was good enough. My friend finally convinced me to join in. I ended up having a blast and learned that it doesn't matter if you're a star player, as long as you're having fun.
–Skylar, age 11, Mississippi

I've learned to ignore people who criticize my clothing. I was constantly teased, but when my friend said, "It doesn't matter what's on the outside—what matters is what's on the inside," I realized that I shouldn't let these girls get to me.
–Kaylee, age 13, California

I have a best friend, but this year, she became friends with another girl. I was upset that it wasn't just her and me anymore, but through that experience, I learned that it's OK for someone to have more than one friend.
–Sophie, age 11, Illinois

One day during lunch, I was very sad because my cat had just died. My friends comforted me and tried to make me feel better. That day, I learned that my friends are there for me, no matter what.
–Ashton, age 13, Florida

Outside of class, I have learned that I can't always do what I want. When I worked with a group that met after school, I had to learn how to cooperate with others. Others' opinions matter just as much as mine.
–Sophia, age 9, Nevada

One thing I've learned is to be myself. A lot of girls get caught up in the things that everyone else is doing, but that doesn't make them unique. I've learned to just be myself and not try to be someone I'm not.
–Anabelle, age 11, Colorado

I learned from a wise teacher that not every person has to be your best friend—or even your friend at all. But you at least need to be kind and civil to everyone.
–Catherine, age 12, South Carolina

One day at recess, I noticed a girl playing by herself. She looked lonely, and I later learned that she didn't have a lot of friends. So I started to play with her at recess. Soon, some of my friends joined us. The girl made lots of friends just because I started to play with her. I've learned that when someone is lonely, go out of your way to spend time with her. You might change her life.
–Judie, age 9, Pennsylvania

I've learned firsthand that a smile, no matter how big or small, can brighten somebody's entire day. Smiling can spark friendships and cheer someone up when she's feeling down.
–Marion, age 13, Mississippi

A lesson I didn't learn from a textbook is that you are in control of yourself. No one has the right to push you around, pressure you, or make you feel awkward. Although it took me some time, I learned these things and stood up for myself against a girl who had been bullying me for years.
–Maxienne, age 13, Alaska

I have learned to not judge a book by its cover. The girl who sits alone at lunch might be super nice, or a soccer player might love to read as much as I do. I think that's a pretty important lesson!
–Bei, age 12, Michigan

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