Something ‘fishy’ going on at Paso Verde — and that’s a good thing

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There’s something fishy going on at Paso Verde School – and Principal Tonja Jarrell couldn’t be happier about it.

NUSD’s newest school is making waves at all grade levels, Transitional Kindergarten through 5th grade, with a simple fish-themed children’s book titled, “Only One You.”

At its most basic level, the colorfully illustrated book is about a mama and daddy fish giving advice to their young son, Adri, about navigating his way through life.

But the words of wisdom are thought-provoking at any grade level, even for adults, touching upon themes of inclusion and friendship, confidence, courtesy, uniqueness, perseverance, positive attitude, nature’s beauty, and making the world a better place.

Paso Verde has made “Only One You” its theme book for the year, providing heartwarming inspiration for students at a brand-new school where classmates are still getting to know each other and where a key message is that they’re all very special – individually and collectively.

“We want our students and our families to see that they’re an integral part of building our community,” Princial Jarrell said of the tie between book and school.

Here’s how “Only One You” fits into Paso Verde’s rigorous curriculum, which is patterned after International Baccalaureate (IB) and heavy on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics:

·         Every teacher, at every grade level, will read and discuss the book with their class.

·         Inspired by “rockfish” illustrations in the book, every Paso Verde student will express themselves artistically by painting the design of a fish or other some other object on a rock, showing how each is unique but can combine to create beautiful works of art.

·         The students’ painted rocks will be saved to create a colorful mound in a school garden that Paso Verde plans to create next month. The outdoor artwork will be part of the kids’ legacy, a source of pride, and a reminder of their role in history as the school’s first class.

·         Teachers plan to use themes in “Only One You” to create assignments in various academic subjects, such as science or essay writing.

·         “Only One You” also will be used to explore and discuss International Baccalaureate learner profiles, such as what it means for students to be caring, open-minded, courageous, and risk-takers. The older the student, the deeper the possibilities.

A sampling of the advice given the young fish Adri by his parents includes:

1)      Always be on the lookout for a new friend.

2)      Look for beauty wherever you are, and keep the memory of it with you.

3)      Blend in when you need to. Stand out when you have the chance.

4)      Find your own way. You don’t have to follow the crowd.

5)      Know when to speak; know when to listen.

6)      No matter how your look at it, there is so much to discover.

7)      If you make a wrong turn, circle back.

8)      If something gets in your way, move around it.

9)      Set aside some quiet time to relax and reflect every day.

10)   Appreciate art. It’s all around you.

11)   Make wishes on the stars in the nighttime sky.

“Only One You” ends with Adri promising his Mama that he’ll remember the advice. She then kisses him on the top of the head.

“There’s only one you in this great big world,” she said. “Make it a better place.”