Fifth grader Abby Smith chose body positivity as the topic of her research project after noticing how many of her fellow students felt about themselves.

“There’s a lot of people in the school who don’t like their body,” she said.

As Abby presented her project Thursday at Lafayette Park Elementary’s Exhibition Open House, she hoped some of those people would hear her speech.

“It’s good to love yourself,” she said.

Her project revolved around three key ideas: what is body positivity, what effects it and how one can achieve body positivity.

For young students, parents play a pivotal role in building up their child’s image, Abby said.

“You should always compliment others freely,” she said.

Abby also encouraged others to “eat when you’re hungry, and eat what sounds good” and mentioned how people often project their own insecurities onto others.

The project and open house were the culmination of International Baccalaureate student’s Primary Years Programme (PYP). Students were tasked with coming up with a topic, developing three lines of inquiry, interviewing someone in the community and writing a research paper.

A core tenet of the IB program is “think globally, act locally.” Projects required an action item, which would impact the community.

Abby left sticky notes with positive messages on them in the bathrooms at school.

“I hope I made someone’s day brighter,” she said.

This year’s exhibition featured a wide variety of topics, including homelessness, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, inflation, landfills, sportsmanship and animal shelters.

Nicole Geary, assistant principal at Lafayette Park and PYP director, said students took a more positive, lighthearted approach to their projects.

“Their ideas and what they wanted to research was so impressive,” Geary said. “They surpass our expectations every single year.”

Bryce Bonewitz and Colby Foresman did their project on sportsmanship, and they were happy to tell you what they learned.

“We’ve been noticing bad sportsmanship,” Colby said.

To counteract it, the two intend to teach younger students what good sportsmanship looks like, such as making others feel included and looking teammates in the eyes.

“It’s like a snowball effect,” Bryce said. “It helps you get respect and get friends.”

Their project displays featured pictures of professional basketball players LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant helping other players get up off the court.

“You don’t know what other people are going through,” Bryce said as he explained why players should display good sportsmanship. “Bad sportsmanship can make them feel even more bad.”

The International Baccalaureate program encourages students to express themselves. Students had to incorporate an artistic expression into their projects.

Avery Arthur and Jazzy Mullins wrote a song as they explored the different types of animal shelters — kill, no kill and government operated shelters. Government or municipal shelters are funded by tax dollars and often have animal control services.

Part of the song goes: “Take the cat to the shelter; Drop it off at the pound; It’s a pet sanctuary; A furry lost and found.”

The two whipped up the song after their first idea, a news broadcast at the Kokomo Humane Society, didn’t pan out.

Next month, the two will host a fundraiser at school where they’ll accept donations to the humane society.

“We both love animals, and we thought it would be a good way to help them,” Avery said.

Joslyn Butler learned you can burn trash and turn it into energy, fuel and heat. Her project looked at pollution, recycling and landfills.

Joslyn made displays of household items that can be recycled and ones that end up in landfills.

“I feel like people don’t recycle enough,” she said. “I feel like I need to tell them about it.”

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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