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It’s hard to miss students at Antelope Trails Elementary School (ATES) on their first-ever Unity Day. Instructed to wear their brightest orange, a sea of students dressed in the same color filled the school’s hallways and playground.

Jennifer Uniszkiewicz, the ATES Counselor explained, “Orange is a color that stands out, like the traffic cones at a construction site, the color makes you pay attention.”

She spearheaded the effort to create a new school tradition while brainstorming ways to make the student-body feel “proactive and inclusive.”

“The purpose of the day was to share the message: We can come together and spread the message of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion to create a culture of belonging throughout our school community,” Uniszkiewicz said.

In addition to wearing orange, Uniszkiewicz found a way to reach all students in the classroom. With the help of Digital Learning Coach Lindsay Illsley, every student took part in creating a Unity Tree.

“This tree is about coming together as a school community,” Illsley explained. She instructed students, “write down how you’d include everyone on a leaf for everyone to see.”

“I will hold the door for someone,” Olive, an ATES third grader told her class.

Ruthie, another third grader said, “If I see someone being bullied, I will jump in and help.”

“If someone wants to play a game, you always let them join in,” Erin, a fourth grader wrote.

When their leaves were completed, they were added to the Unity Tree displayed in the school’s Learning Commons during Teacher-Parent Conference Week for everyone to view.

“This was the perfect opportunity to take the time to build community and belonging,” Uniszkiewicz said. “In order for our students to make a better class, grade, and school community they need to be a part of the conversation. What better way than to explain a word and have a day dedicated to it.”

Uniszkiewicz hopes the tradition continues next year with more activities to bring students together.