An Attitude of Gratitude

Saturday, April 10, 2021 - By: Emily N, Allard ‘22

During assembly on Thursday, April 1st, Mr Patel spoke on the importance of gratitude at Brentwood, and how being grateful pushes us towards being a more positive community. He touched on the harsh reality of this past year, when Covid-19 took so much away from so many. This year, Brentwood is one of the few schools that is fortunate enough to still be operating in person, instead of the doom and gloom of Zoom that we all faced in Spring 2020.

What he said really stuck with me because I realized that during this school year the Brentwood community has stopped taking the little things for granted. After having those things taken away from us last year, they don’t seem so little anymore. From the delectable breakfast cakes we sometimes get on Wednesday mornings, to enjoying a live performance of the Grade 8 musical, Madagascar Jr in November, everything is acknowledged. Another thing that I took from Mr Patel’s speech was how contagious both positivity and negativity are. Negative people spread their pessimism to others, while people who are positive spread their optimism to others. If we all consciously try to be more optimistic, we will actively be creating a stronger community within the Brentwood gates and beyond.

While many of us were touched by Mr Patel’s words, I’d like to point out that what he said has been backed up by many research articles, such as “Giving thanks can make you happier” by Harvard Health Publishing. The article supports what Mr Patel articulated, that giving thanks makes for a more positive community, and that positivity is highly contagious. The article states that “with gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives”, and it has been proven through positive psychology research that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” This is information that we should take with us to improve ourselves, and our community, because we get to shape the place we live in by choosing the emotions that we express daily.

I think that students express gratitude in many different ways, but one place on campus that it is very noticeable is in Crooks Hall. During every meal, you will hear students and staff giving thanks to all the kitchen staff who serve us our meals and to the people who work in the tray drop area. It has become a community habit to thank everyone in the dining hall, and it is something that surely does not go unnoticed. Chef David Sheffield expressed his gratitude because he feels that being amidst our friendly community is “like always having won the Lotto ticket.” He sees gratitude being expressed by students frequently, from “lots of sincerity in the thank yous received” in Crooks, to “a chocolate Easter bunny [that was sent] to a coworker” the other day. Aside from these day-to-day things, Chef David believes that “the biggest symbol of gratitude that [he has] seen would be the getting on board with all the Covid protocols by all Brentwood students this year.” He thinks that “This is because everyone feels very grateful to be here now. Like we all know how lucky we are!”

I know that gratitude is constantly being communicated at Brentwood. Some of the ways that this is done is when BWell organizes appreciation notes which students can send to anyone on campus, the “I’m Thankful For…” bulletin board in Crooks to stick Post-It notes on that goes up annually during Kindness Week, and when students can send appreciative candy grams during the holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter to anyone at Brentwood.

Gratitude at Brentwood is not only expressed by sending each other tangible items. Just like our habit of thanking the staff working in the dining hall, we have also built a habit of saying thank you to our teachers at the end of class, and to our coaches at the end of each sports day to let them know that we really do appreciate all the hard work they put in for us to learn and grow at Brentwood.

Mr Collis even noted this habit, and he goes on to paraphrase Holden from Catcher in the Rye: “This floors me. Why would they thank someone for giving them homework? I don't remember ever thanking my teachers. Glaring at them, sure. Occasionally cursing them. I am so grateful to teach these weirdos.” It is so wonderful to see that at Brentwood, the appreciation goes both ways for students and staff alike.

Cultivating gratitude is something that Brentwood does well, and everyone should continue to do on their own. When we focus on the things that we have, instead of what we wish we had, we stop taking things for granted. Tommy M, Privett ‘23, realizes that “We’re so much more fortunate and prepared than so many kids across the world, and for this we have to thank and be grateful towards our parents and the amazing staff at Brentwood.” We should remember this every day, and there are simple things that we can do in order to continue cultivating gratitude in our lives. Some of the actions we can take include writing down a few things that you are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day, and taking time to recognize the things that people do for you, and thank those individuals, whether that is your classmate, teacher, friend, or even a stranger.

Gratitude is something that will never go out of style, and is something that the Brentwood community prioritizes.

Emily N, Allard ‘22

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