a community engagement initiative of Momence CUSD #1
An unknown individual said, “Train your mind to see the good in every situation.” This can be a challenging habit for many of us to accomplish, even children, as difficulty in life often breeds negativity. For instance, when they get a bad grade on a test they studied hard for, it’s easy to slip into negative self-talk. But one Je-Neir Elementary student seems to have already mastered the art of positive thinking.
Fourth grader Alaina Martinez speaks with a wisdom beyond her years. During our interview Alaina said she was a little nervous about leaving the fourth grade because she would be going to a new school. We asked about her memories of kindergarten, when school was an entirely new experience for her and she said she was, “kind of nervous because it was the first year in a new school, and you’re the youngest [in the whole school].” Next we asked her, if she could go back and give her kindergarten self any advice, what would it be? “That you should always stay positive when you’re doing your work and don’t give up. You may feel like you’re going to give up, but it’s okay. Just keep pushing yourself. And that you’re always going to accomplish what you want to do,” Alaina responded.
Stay positive and don’t give up. Just keep pushing yourself.
By Erica Loos
Alaina has a number of adult influences around her that reinforce her inherent positivity. She enjoys STEM, and said that her teacher, Dr. Bleyle, “is an encouraging person and he … tells you the truth and stuff.” Another favorite teacher for Alaina is Miss Johnson. “I didn’t think I was going to get a good teacher, or a new teacher, but she tries her best and she encourages us that we can do what we put into our mind,” she said. Probably the most important influence for Alaina, according to her, is her mother. “She is a nice person and she encourages herself… she really does her best and she always accomplishes it. And that she’s a really good mother,” she said. It’s clear that Alaina recognizes and admires the effort of the people around her who truly do the best they can, and that effort is an inspiring thing for her.
Not only is Alaina incredibly positive in her thinking, she has courage and bravery to match. When asked to give an example about something she’s most proud of accomplishing, she had an astounding answer. “That I never thought I would be able to ride eight miles on a [bicycle],” she said. Curious about the reasons behind this epic bicycle journey, we asked for a little more detail. It turns out, Alaina was on a mission for something tasty from Panera Bread. “I just got a mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich,” she clarified.
Although Alaina has the bravery and positivity of someone well beyond her years, she is still a fourth grader, and enjoys doing the things that all kids her age do. She likes to spend time with her friends, and enjoys sitting and talking with her best friend, Macy, during recess. Alaina’s family is planning a trip to Wisconsin soon, and she gets to take Macy with her, which she’s really excited about. Alaina is also active in sports, playing basketball and having also participated in volleyball camp. During the summers, Alaina and her family go camping, which she enjoys so much she chose it over playing summer softball.
Alaina, while only in the fourth grade, seems to have a good grasp on thinking positively, recognizing and emulating the efforts of those around her, and the courage to do things even if she’s nervous. All in all, this youngster seems to have the tools she needs to go wherever she wants in life, and has a bright future ahead of her. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” It might as well have been Momence’s own Alaina Martinez who uttered those brave words.