The singer-songwriter brought his messages of encouragement, setting goals and service to others to each school in the district, culminating in a concert to benefit the Smyrna-Clayton Boys & Girls Club. See a video and photos from Ruben's visit to Clayton Elementary in this story.

The Smyrna School District held special events during “We Can” Week featuring singer and songwriter Jesse Ruben March 11-14, including a benefit concert at Smyrna High Thursday.

Admission to the concert was concert is free, but donations were accepted to benefit the Smyrna-Clayton Boys & Girls Club.

All year students have been engaged in service-based learning projects to improve their schools and their community.

This "We Can" initiative began last school year at Sunnyside Elementary School in a partnership with Ruben, a New York-based singer and songwriter whose mission is to give back to schools.

Ruben’s catchy tune “We Can” encourages resilience in every child who learns the song, said Superintendent Patrik Williams.

“Music teachers in our schools have been teaching the song to our students this year so that they are ready to sing it with Jesse when he visits,” said Williams. “Jesse reminds us in his song that we can overcome our challenges, set a goal and achieve it with hard work.”

The “We Can” mission is: “A service learning initiative that inspires and profoundly connects students of all ages to the difference they can make in their lives, their communities, and in the world,” according to the website www.wecanwecanwecan.com/.

Last year, the Sunnyside Elementary staff and students worked all spring to cultivate this culture in their school, and in May, Ruben spent a day working with every class.

This month, Ruben visited each district school on the following dates:

Monday, March 11 – Clayton Intermediate School (morning) and North Smyrna Elementary School (afternoon).

Tuesday, March 12 – Smyrna Elementary School (morning) and Sunnyside Elementary School (afternoon).

Wednesday, March 13 – JBM Intermediate School (morning) and Clayton Elementary School (afternoon).

Thursday, March 14 – Smyrna Middle School (morning) and Smyrna High School (afternoon/evening).

‘We Can’ projects

Students and staff at all eight schools in the district have been involved in the “We Can” project since the beginning of the school year in a variety of efforts to integrate “We Can” lessons and activities into classrooms.

Each student has created an “I Can” statement which identifies their unique talent, interest or goal, while their “We Can” statement is something that collectively everyone can do to make the world a better place. A few examples from each school include:

Sunnyside Elementary – Each classroom has its own “We Can” project. Some of these projects involve helping the Ronald McDonald House, collecting mittens and gloves for others, “Start with Hello,” “Stuff the Bus” Food Collection honoring veterans and police officers with cards and letters, donating to an animal shelter and donating books. Each classroom is also creating its own “we can” poster for its classroom service project, and these posters will be posted in the school.

Clayton Elementary – The school-wide project is a “We Can Building.” Students have created a brick about what they can do, and the staff has written inspirational “You Can” messages for the roof of the structure. Many students have also made sandwiches to deliver to a local homeless shelter, and this will happen each month for the remainder of the year. The first delivery included about 300 sandwiches.

North Elementary – Students have created their self-portraits and other art work which is posted around the school. The portraits include student “I Can” and “We Can” statements to reinforce their messages. The library is also highlighting books emphasizing the “we can” message, and these are being shared in the classrooms.

Smyrna Elementary – Each month, each grade level participates in an assembly in which all students practice good community. Students work together in circles to learn more about one another and incorporate “We Can” into their daily routines. One of the school's first initiatives focused on “We Can” start each day with hello. Another challenge was the Great Kindness Challenge. Recently, one of the challenges was National No One Eats Alone Day when “We Can” pledge that no one eats alone.

John Bassett Moore Intermediate – Students have written an “I Can” poem to be posted along with their picture. Students have developed “We Can” statements and have decorated the halls. Art students have made a “We can lift others up by…” banner with wings which will be displayed in the auditorium. All the students know the song, and a group will learn the sign language version.

Clayton Intermediate – The Positive Behavior Support Student Committee has taught lessons for “We Can” and “I Can.” Students have created “We Can” statements displayed downstairs in the hallways. They have also created “I Can” statements that are displayed on their lockers. Service project initiatives all begin with “We Can,” and these include dances, “Sock Out” Homelessness, adopting families for Christmas and breast cancer awareness.

Smyrna Middle School – Student clubs such as Honor Society, SGA, FFA and BPA are making “We Can” posters highlighting what they do for the school. These posters will be displayed for the concert and will remain throughout the school in the spring when CIS and JBM come for school visits to learn about opportunities at SMS. Students are also writing “I Can” statements at lunch.

Smyrna High School – The Educators Rising Chapter interns have been working with all of the other schools to develop their services projects. Interns have worked in nearly every school to support the program, to facilitate learning and to adopt the “We Can” spirit. They also helped during the concert March 14 to assist with tickets and seating.