If you like the gray polo shirts that are the latest addition to Heathwood’s uniforms, thank a 3rd grader. (Or rather, thank two of them, who are now 4th graders.) The new uniform shirts are their brainchild, the result of a class project in persuasive writing last year.
When 3rd grade teacher Kim Bain asked her students to write a persuasive letter to a Heathwood teacher or administrator, classmates Henry Morris and Turner Rice decided to approach Head of School Chris Hinchey with a request to add gray to the list of acceptable uniform colors. Mr. Hinchey read their letters, thought they made a strong case (as a father of three boys, he was perhaps most persuaded by their observation that gray doesn’t show dirt), and wrote back saying he’d take their suggestion to the school’s Senior Administrative Team. The next thing Turner and Henry knew, gray polos were on sale at the Plaid Peddler, having been officially sanctioned as a uniform item for the 2017-18 school year.
Anyone who’s been on campus recently can tell the new shirts have been a big hit. In fact, says Plaid Peddler Manager Antara Brandner, “The gray UA polo shirts have been my bestselling men’s and boys’ polos this year. I had to reorder them to keep up with demand.”
The persuasive writing assignment is one of four writing units Heathwood students undertake in 3rd grade. The others are a personal narrative, an informational essay, and a fairy tale. The students in Mrs. Bain’s class began the persuasive unit by making arguments for which class pet to get. The winning arguments, for Eddie Eagle and Nibbles the Bunny, were made by Thompson Adams and Anoushka Palshikar—and Mrs. Bain was so impressed by the persuasive powers of the class as a whole that she decided to add the persuasive letter as a follow-up assignment.
Henry and Turner’s proposal was one of many good ideas that emerged from the assignment. Others included a class dance party, gray football jerseys that Lower School students could wear on football Fridays, a pet show-and-tell day, and longer recess.
Mrs. Bain says when the time comes for this year’s persuasive writing unit, she’ll likely invite Turner and Henry to come talk to her current students. “They’re very pleased that their efforts have paid off in a whole-school way,” she says. Even more importantly, “They’ve learned that if you have a good idea, you need to speak up, because you never know what might happen.”