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Superintendent Smith receives huge box of Valentine’s from Ocean Road SchoolSuperintendent Smith reads Valentines from Ocean Road Students

The role of a school superintendent can be difficult at times. Handling the daily trials and tribulations of thousands of teenagers, adolescents, and children is not without its issues. Add to that the occasional dispute that can arise, and the job can sometimes be quite the challenge. Yet it's a role that Point Pleasant Borough School District Superintendent Vincent S. Smith embraces happily and with gratitude. And that sense of appreciation is reciprocated by nearly all of the 3000 students that attend Point Pleasant Borough Schools.

At no time was this sense of gratitude quite as visible as it was on Feb. 14, 2018 or Valentine’s Day as the date is widely celebrated. That was the day when Ocean Road Elementary School Principal Sheila Buck delivered to Superintendent Smith a huge red construction paper wrapped box – 19” tall by 13.3” wide – stuffed to the brim with roughly 500 handmade Valentines, created by the school’s entire student body, from preschoolers through students in grade 5. The box was also adorned with construction paper hearts and a select few Valentines, which were taped to the outside of the box

“Superintendent Smith is such a visible presence in our school,” said Ocean Road Principal Sheila Buck on Valentine’s Day. “In fact, just last week, he came and ate lunch with our students for No One Eats Alone Day, which is part of our schools Great Kindness Challenge. He’s a big part of what happens in the school and the students understand and appreciate that.”

The Great Kindness Challenge, according to Principal Buck is a grassroots movement that encourages participants to perform as many kind deeds as possible during one week with the goal of making the world a kinder and more compassionate place. 

Superintendent reads Valentines MessagesThe Challenge was created in 2006 by Kids for Peace, an organization whose mission is to cultivate every child’s innate ability to foster peace through cross-cultural experiences and hands-on arts, service and environmental projects. What started as a neighborhood group of kids wanting to make the world a better place, has grown into an interconnected network of young peacebuilders worldwide.

During the Challenge week, students commit various acts of kindness, designed to encourage them to think of and perform their own good deeds. And it’s a job they take very seriously.

Challenge Week or not, though, the week’s theme simply helped serve to motivate the students to express their gratitude to Superintendent Smith, thanking him for everything from being their friend to helping support their school to providing a medium with which they could share general messages of love, support and kindness.

Every single one of the 500+ cards depicted a unique message, frequently accompanied by original artwork and occasionally candy, designed to wish Superintendent Smith well this Valentine’s Day.

Third grader Sadie Bober’s card read, “I hope you have a very awesome Valentine’s Day. We are really happy to have all the great things we do have in ORS.”

A student in Mr. Grace’s third grade class wrote, “You’re the best Superintendent. Oh yes, you’re the absolute best!”

First grader Julius Reaves’ card, which was adorned with a lovely picture, read,” Dear Mr. Smith, thank you for keeping our school safeSuperintendent Smith's Valentines Cards

Another read, “Dear Mr. Smith, Hapey [sic] Valentine’s Day! You’re awesome. Thank you so vary [sic] mach [sic] for everything you do!”

And one Justin V. wrote, “Dear Mr. Smith, You are my Valentine. You are the greatest superintendent ever! When there is snow days we all know you decide weather [sic] we go to school or stay home. Sometimes you decide we stay home. I love that! Have a great Valentine’s Day!”

There were pop-up cards, 3D cards, tiny cards, oversized cards, cards with candy and so many more.

But every card held a similar message of love and gratitude for Superintendent Smith. And during the long weekend, the superintendent took the entire box of cards home with him so that he could read each and every one and reflect on their messages.

“It’s clear that each and every one of these cards were written from the heart,” said Superintendent Smith. “And that’s what made it so meaningful. I cannot adequately express my gratitude and appreciation to the students and staff at Ocean Road School for helping to brighten my Valentine’s Day and communicating their thoughtful, heartfelt message. It means more than I can say.”

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