Fifth-grade student learns to ‘Pay It Forward’

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 9/23/21

On the day of Marlboro Elementary School’s open house, fifth grader Zachary Dina paid it forward by personally handing out roses to the 150 member school faculty and staff.

“It felt …

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Fifth-grade student learns to ‘Pay It Forward’

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On the day of Marlboro Elementary School’s open house, fifth grader Zachary Dina paid it forward by personally handing out roses to the 150 member school faculty and staff.

“It felt really good for all the teachers to be respected,” Zachary said. “All the teachers feel like family.”
Over the summer, Zachary’s mother, Melanie, brought him home a book that they started to read together during that time. That book was called Pay It Forward by author Catherine Ryan Hyde.

In the book, Hyde discusses the idea of a young student who is given an assignment by his teacher to create a plan for the betterment of the world. Thus the character in the book creates a plan that he calls “Pay It Forward”.

With this book, Zachary decided to put that idea into action and pay it forward.
One day, Zachary came forward to his mother about an idea that he had thought about and that he wanted to do for the people at his school. The idea was to hand out roses to each person.

Melanie supported the idea fully and she reached out to Marlboro Elementary School principal, Patricia Walsh to see how this could be possible.

According to Melanie, Walsh suggested that the idea take place at the school’s open house on Sept. 14.
For Walsh, she is appreciative of the deed done by Zachary and the acknowledgment he showed for her faculty and staff for their efforts and work that they do on a daily basis.

“There’s 40 classrooms and 135 or so faculty and staff, he (Zachary) wanted to make sure that he recognized everyone. Student teachers, special subject teachers, all kinds of personnel, the clerical unit, the paraprofessionals, the custodians, the cafeteria workers, everyone got a rose from Zachary,” Walsh said. “It was a great way to start the year.”

Melanie then reached out to the local florist, Love’s Flowers, in Marlboro to see if they would be able to assist in this plan. Love’s Flower is owned by father and daughter Leo and Lisa Bozydaj. The shop will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

During that summer, Zachary spent most of that time working for his family members, saving up as much as he could to afford the roses. He collected $200 and bought 150 roses.

According to Melanie, Love’s Flowers donated all 150 water tubes for the flowers. Other supplies and thank you notes were then ordered to be added to the gift for the people.

For Bozydaj, she is thankful for being a part of this project. Working with Zachary and preparing it all out is an experience that she will remember for a long time.

“I feel like we were fortunate to be a small part in his (Zachary) dream. His (Zachary) heart is big and he touched so many people that day that he shared the flowers.” Bozydaj said. “I want people to know that you can have a dream and there’s always community that can pull together to make that dream come true.”

On the evening before the open house, Melanie’s mother came over and between their group, they assembled the flowers. It took three and a half hours of trimming and preparation for them all to be ready. Zachary personally wanted to make sure that all of the flowers were properly trimmed and prepared.

At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Zachary came in and began his first trip of rounds to the faculty. Students don’t start entering the building until 8:50 a.m., according to his mother. Within those 20 minutes, Zachary introduced himself and personally thanked 100 faculty members and even got to class early. Later that afternoon, he came back and handed out the last 50 roses to the other members.

For Melanie, she could not be more proud of her son and what he did for those teachers and staff.

“You don’t always know what somebody else is going through and a little bit of kindness goes a long way,” Melanie said. “It can change somebody’s day. Kindness truly matters. Doesn’t matter how big or how small, it goes a long way.”

For Zachary, this experience will remain with him for the rest of his life. He is grateful for his teachers and he hopes that this simple act of kindness can change the world for the better.

“Thank you for all your hard work and all your kindness to all the people,” Zachary said, “Thank you for being you.”

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