How the Fifth Grade became difference makers

Editor’s note: This is the address Colorado Academy Lower School Principal Angie Crabtree delivered at the Fifth Grade Continuation on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and YOU decide what kind of difference you want to make. – Jane Goodall

Throughout this year, I have had the good fortune to observe all of you as you move in and out of each school day. You have been inspiring, caring, thoughtful, kind, influential, and passionate. As I reflect on this year together, I have observed three traits consistently demonstrated by you as a class.

Hard workers

You are hard workers. You are consistent and you persevere. Making a difference takes energy, time, and focus, and it requires a lot of hard work. If you are not willing to roll up your sleeves and dig in, the likelihood of you making a positive impact on anyone or anything is pretty slim.

Making a difference does not mean you work hard for the short-term or take short cuts. Success often comes to those who are simply willing to outlast everyone else and buckle in for the duration! I saw this in your work as Mustang Mentors. Your tasks were not always easy and often required a great deal of patience, but you were able to commit to doing your very best each time you reported to mentoring.

Problem solvers

You are problem solvers. Problems are a fact of life, but instead of complaining about them, difference makers seek and create solutions. Anyone can be a problem identifier; however, it requires focus and tenacity to move beyond the problem and develop a path forward.

Not every solution will work, and sometimes a solution may work once but not the next time. When a problem happens, you look for the opportunity to learn and grow. You practice active listening, you encourage those around you, and you look for ways to serve. Your Voices of Change projects are examples of how you truly see beyond an issue and worked tirelessly to educate others and create solutions that truly drive change in the world. I am excited about the future with you leading the way!


You are kind. There is a magical shift that happens when everyone understands kindness and then acts on it. The action of being kind can take on many forms. A kind act could be:

smiling at a new member of your class;

sharing a compliment;

noticing that someone needs help;

waiting patiently for your turn;

leaving a note on someone’s desk;

giving someone a pep talk when they feel down;

creating a kindness sign to inspire others; or

cheering for someone in a game at recess.

Last week, I decided to go on a Kindness Scavenger Hunt, and I counted the number of kindness acts that I personally witnessed from all of you in your classrooms, at recess, during lunch, and in the hallways.

The grand total for the day was 36, which was absolutely amazing. Compassion, empathy for others, and little acts of kindness were rolling through the hallways of the Lower School due to your words and actions.

We must continue to be hard workers, seek problems to solve, and always be kinder than necessary. The difference is not one huge or monumental change or event. It’s many, many acts and spoken words of love, comfort, compassion, and joy that we extend to others.

It’s a unified effort.

It’s each one of us doing his or her part—big or small—to be a difference maker.

Every day.

In every way.