The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Celebrating Names and Identity

As part of their racial literacy program, the Primary School community has started talking about the significance and meaning of names as it relates to identity. Throughout April, students will be exploring stories about names through literature, art, and writing.

At the beginning of April, students heard the story My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits in homeroom, about a young Koren girl who thinks her name looks beautiful when written in Korean but doesn’t like how it looks in English. In the story, the little girl tries out some different names like “cat” and “cupcake” until she gets more comfortable with this new version of her name. In Morning Meeting, Primary teachers shared personal stories about their names. Last week, students had a special homework assignment. They asked their parents to share a story about their name, and together they wrote it down. The stories could be about any part of their name - first, middle, or last - and any aspect of their name, from what it means to why their parents chose it, or just what they like about it! In Thursday’s Morning Meeting, students in every grade had the opportunity to share their name stories with the rest of the community. They told wonderful stories about names inspired by television show themes, great-great-grandparents, joyful emotions, aspirational traits, and names that were chosen because they sound equally beautiful in a variety of languages. While Head of Primary School Katie Knuppel often shares a story in Morning Meeting, students were especially excited to hear stories where their friends and classmates were the main characters! Even after the Morning Meeting ended, students continued to share their name stories in class because they enjoyed telling their own name stories and hearing others.

Students will continue exploring the topic of names in literature through books like Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow about a little girl who is frustrated that everyone at school mispronounces her name, and Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie about a boy who doesn’t want to share a name with his father. In art class, second grade students have been working with Primary Art Teacher Cathy Gruetzke-Blais to create tessellations, a shape that repeats itself into a pattern of their names. Students brought together their names, favorite colors, patterns, and symbols, for activities that they enjoy, in their tessellation designs.