All Ridgefield Academy Kindergarten - Grade 3 students know the last Friday of the month as “Feel Good Friday”—and they have for nearly six years now. As soon as families arrive at the school’s entrance, Director of Security and Facilities Larry Curry encourages students to give a thumbs up or cheer, and Feel Good Friday begins!
Each Feel Good Friday includes a themed dress-down day and activities that bring the Lower School and Landmark Preschool community together. Whether it is an outdoor lunch enjoying the beautiful view from West Mountain or the chance for a student to wear their favorite outfit to school, every Feel Good Friday brings something different and exciting.
Director of Teaching & Learning Teresa Ghelman serves as the Lower School’s Feel Good Friday coordinator, organizing activities and communicating with faculty each month.
“Feel Good Fridays are an opportunity to celebrate what a very special place RA is,” Ghelman said. “They are truly a highlight of the RA experience, and families and faculty alike enjoy them.”
Students might be wearing thinking caps to participate in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) challenges, or engaging in a special heart healthy P.E. class on Valentine’s Day. For an “All About Me” theme last October, Lower School students practiced their leadership skills by reading a favorite book to Landmark Preschool students.
Ghelman’s favorite Feel Good Friday is a dress-up day in November prior to Thanksgiving, when the theme centers around gratitude.
“I love serving the students with my peers at the family-style Thanksgiving lunch and sharing what we’re all so grateful for as a community,” she said.
Feel Good Friday was founded in 2017 by Head of Preschool & Lower School Alison O’Callaghan and Grade 2 teacher Katie Spiro. For O’Callaghan, the most exciting aspect is changing and refreshing the themes.
“We have some old favorites we bring back year after year, but we also think about that year’s Lower School students and consider what that group would like best,” O’Callaghan said.
In the 2023-24 school year, this will include a new Feel Good Friday centered around puzzles and problem-solving.
One of the traditional Feel Good Friday themes evokes the warmest memories for Spiro. In December, all preschool and Lower School students wear pajamas and visit Head of School Tom Main in his home for a cozy holiday read-aloud by the fireplace.
Now serving as the Lower School’s Service Learning coordinator, Spiro brings community service opportunities to RA’s youngest students and has been revitalizing community-service activities that were on hiatus during the pandemic.
Feel Good Friday activities often extend beyond the walls of the Summit Building by partnering with Service Learning. During lunch on every Feel Good Friday, students conduct a lemonade
sale with proceeds supporting service-learning projects initiated by the students. Past Feel Good Fridays have included visits from organizations that RA partners with, such as Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue, and an afternoon of service in the spring.
“We have always tried to highlight kindness on Feel Good Fridays—whether it's kindness to self, kindness to others, kindness to community, or kindness to our planet,” Spiro said.