It's a final exam like no other. Seniors at a high school in Carlsbad are sharing their gratitude in an emotional video, instead of taking a traditional test.
The students at Sage Creek High wrapped up their trimester with a new project called The Gratitude Workshop. Students called people to tell them why they're grateful to have them in their lives. The video of their gratitude calls is going viral across the community.
"This project has impacted so many lives in such a short period of time," said senior English teacher Corrie Myers, "We’ve received countless heartfelt thank yous from friends, family members, and teachers connected to these students, as well as messages from total strangers about how seeing this video brightened their day."
It all started when Myers and fellow teacher Sarah Hunter decided they wanted to focus on making every day of the senior year curriculum meaningful and relevant, as their students teetered between adulthood and childhood.
As part of the required English 4 College Prep class, they had students study literature related to gratitude and hear from guest speakers. They even learned about the science of gratitude and its impact on physical and emotional health. All to help give students tools to draw from when they encounter the stress of adulthood.
"When you operate from a posture of gratitude, you recognize that there is a bigger story at play, and that the every day troubles- and even the big life-changing ones- are not the sum of their existence," Myers said.
The classwork all led up to The Gratitude Workshop, during which students wrote a letter of gratitude to three people: a peer, a teacher or staff member, and a family member.
Then on the day of the final, the teachers surprised them and asked them to call each of those people, and videotape one of the calls.
"It's real. It's raw. And it's teaching us all how to open our hearts, dare to be vulnerable, and make a difference one expression of gratitude at a time," said Myers and Hunter on their website describing the project.
Madison Surrency, a 16-year-old who plans to attend an out of state university, wrote to a friend she met a few summers ago at a theatre arts camp.
"I told her that she still means the world to me and that she will always be the big sister I never had," Surrency said.
"From the very first phone call, we knew that we had tapped into something special," Myers told NBC7, "Within minutes we could almost see the ripples reaching outward as this project impacted our students, and then the recipients of their phone calls, and then the community around us."
"It was so moving for so many people and I truly think people walked away from that experience differently," Surrency said.
The teachers say they have every intention of doing this project every year, from now on.
"Because the success of this project hinged on the students themselves and what they gave to the experience, the impact has been widespread," Myers explained.
They are spreading the word about the video on social media, using the hashtags #spreadgratitude and #TheGratitudeWorkshop.
"We think it’s exactly what our world needs right now, and we believe students are the best messengers of this truth," Myers said.