“I have some… news to share,” Mrs. Williams said, clearing her throat and wiping a tear from her eye. She wasn’t quite sure how to give this news, but she felt the students of Chocachatti deserved to know exactly what was going on.
The room went silent as Mrs. Williams was trying to collect her thoughts. Then, they began to question her, nervously.
“What is it?”
“Is everything OK?”
“I’ve just heard that Principal Rybka has passed away,” she finally stated, trying not to let her voice waver.
Silence fell on the room again. Some students hugged each other, others sat quietly, not sure how to take the news.
“Wait, what, when?” one student was visibly shaken.
Principal Rybka hadn’t been at the school in a year, but most of the students were used to seeing her roam the halls, watching over their school like a mother with hundreds of children. Her absence had been painfully noticeable this year, especially for the older students.
“We have to do something for her, so that nobody ever forgets how awesome she was” fourth grader Cecilia stood up and spoke firmly. They all nodded in agreement.
At the next government meeting, the mayor referred to Cecilia’s proclamation. They debated amongst themselves, trying to figure out the perfect way to preserve their former principal’s memory.
Cecilia spoke again. She was the owner of Canvas Creations, a venture that typically sold painting-with-friends classes and student-created art at the marketplace.
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot,” she said. “Principal Rybka always had a smile on her face, and I think we should do something that makes people smile.”
The other students nodded and listened intently.
“The artists at Canvas Creations can paint something happy – and donate it to cancer patients so they have something special to smile about. And we’ll make sure they know it’s from Principal Rybka.”
“She loved sunflowers,” one shy fourth grader said softly.
Cecilia’s face lit up, remembering the basket on the former principal’s desk. “She did! We can totally paint sunflowers!”
“We can give them their own seeds, to grow flowers,” another student chimed in.
“In a pretty pot, with gardening stuff!”
“I love all of these ideas!” Cecilia paused for a moment and frowned slightly. “But I don’t know how we can buy the supplies to make extra paintings, plus pots and seeds.”
Andres, the assistant manager of Canvas Creations, stood up. “Winter Wonderland!” he exclaimed.
Cecilia was confused.
“We can pool our personal money together to make extra inventory for Winter Wonderland, and use the money we make from that to cover the cost of flower pots, seeds, extra paint and canvases,” he explained.
The employees of Canvas Creations worked around the clock to put together extra pieces to sell at the Winter Wonderland market. They even set up a table where students could pay to paint their own sunflowers, alongside the word “hope,” the gifts they would later give patients undergoing cancer treatment. It was the most popular venture in the entire marketplace.
“So… how much did we raise?” Cecilia asked, anxious to find out whether they’d be able to pay back their employees for buying their own supplies to support the event.
“$400,” Andres said.
“Wow! But how much do we owe for the supplies though?”
“No, Cecilia. We have $400 left after we pay all of our employees for the supplies. And some of them said they don’t want to be paid back, they want us to use the money to buy more canvases and seeds to keep this going.”
Cecilia was floored at that moment, but even more so when she and her employees walked into the local cancer center two weeks later, with a check for the American Cancer Society, their “Hope Canvases” and 32 “Seeds of Hope” (as they decided to call them) gardening packages.
“We just wanted to put a smile on your faces, the way our principal did for us” Cecilia said to a group of patients who had gathered to receive their gifts.
“You have,” one older woman said, smiling as she examined her painting. “And you’ve planted seeds of hope, too.”