Teacher spreads gratitude through ‘Thankful Thursday’


Cambry Parsons (10) participates in Thankful Thursday with a journal entry. Parsons has written multiple entries throughout the year and tries to include heartfelt responses each week. (Taya Hernandez)

Taya Hernandez, Reporter

English teacher Laura Hiebenthal has taken action in finding new ways to allow teenagers to appreciate their surroundings. She created a new activity for her students to participate in weekly: Thankful Thursday.

Teenage years are known to be mentally exhausting for young adults. Emotional changes, self-exploration and balancing social, school and work obligations are all difficult things to juggle during high school. However, Hiebenthal found a way to try and ease the tension for her students.

“I think I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff out there about, like, research about what gratitude can do for us, like physical health, mental health, emotional health… the research out there, I can’t quote stats or anything, but it’s pretty convincing that… it’s pretty amazing, if you can stop and be grateful for something, what that does to your body,” Hiebenthal said.

All of Hiebenthal’s classes participate in this gratitude practice by journaling a positive thing that happened along their week. After writing their entry down, students put their notebook away and wait for the end of the year to open it and reflect on their year’s experiences.

“I do like thankful Thursday because it kind of makes me think about things I don’t always think about and what I should be thankful for… I think it, like, it makes me kind of appreciate the little things,” sophomore Eva Miller said.

Many of Hiebenthal’s students have shared their thoughts and feelings about this weekly activity, including explaining how much it has helped their mood and healed their mindset. Students are appreciating this introduction to thankfulness and actively participate in writing down their thoughts.

Not only has Hiebenthal’s activity improved the mental state of many students, but it’s also inspired many to step up and show off their leadership skills, spreading their own kindness throughout the school and creating an overall positive environment. This is also related to Hiebenthal’s implemention of “Make-a-day Monday.”

“There’s always something to be thankful for,” Cambry Parsons (10) said. Parsons has two classes with Hiebenthal this semester and enjoys the focus on gratitude and kindness in addition to English content.

The attitudes of many students have changed — and it’s all due to taking just a few minutes to write down a few words of gratitude.