Heartwarming video of 1st-graders hugging, high-fiving, and shaking hands as they leave school goes viral

A video of first-graders hugging, high-fiving and shaking hands goes viral. (Photo: Getty Images)

A teacher in El Paso, Texas, is giving her students an important lesson in kindness and respect.

Zelene Blancas is a first-grade teacher at the Dr. Sue Shook Elementary School in El Paso. On Nov. 30, she shared a touching video of her students hugging and shaking hands as they left the classroom, and it’s gone viral.

In the video, one grinning little guy is standing by the door next to a chart with images that represent different greetings kids can choose from — a hug, a handshake, a high-five, and a fist bump. As each student leaves, they slap a greeting of their choosing. The video is a minute and a half long, and most of the children choose the hug. That meant the little boy waiting got hugs from almost all of his classmates as they each walked out the door. Some chose to do all four of the options, giving the lucky dude a hug, a handshake, a high-five and then a fist bump.

Twitter cannot get over the love between these students. The video has racked up over 14 million views and 80,000 likes. There are hundreds of comments praising Blancas for coming up with a way to teach her students how to love and respect one another in a fun way. Some simply cannot get enough of the kids.

This is a new ritual for the students. Blancas introduced it in her classroom about a month ago, and as far as she knows, she’s the only one doing it in her school. “I saw something similar online, and I thought, ‘This is nice. I could see my class doing something like this because they are all very loving,” Blancas tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s something that we do every single day. We do it in the morning as we come in and in the afternoon before we go home.”

She’s chooses a different student every day at random, and that person is the “greeter” for the day.

Since starting this, the class has gotten closer. “It has brought us together. They collaborate better now,” Blancas gushed.

The teacher is using this ritual to teach her students to love school and each other. “We want to instill in them that they are loved in school,” she says. “It’s something they get excited to do every single day. It makes them want to come back the next day because when they go home they feel that their friends love them and that school is a safe environment.”

This also helps boost their mood after a tough day. “We have a very strict curriculum, so there are days when they feel tired or overwhelmed or they are just not feeling well that day. But now that we started this, if they had a hard day, at least when they go home, they feel good that they can do this and want to come back tomorrow.”

Blancas is also using the greeting to teach them about respect and space. “They have options. That way if they feel comfortable hugging, they can do that, but if not, they can do a high-five or something,” she explains. “Some of them pick all of them.”

Then there are those who completely opt out, but they are few and far between. “If a kid really doesn’t want to do it, that’s OK too,” she explains. “We need to respect each other and our decisions.”

There was one boy in the video who skipped the greeter, and Twitter was concerned.


But Blancas insisted he’s the “sweetest boy,” and he just wasn’t paying attention on his way out the door.

Luckily, Blancas has taught her students how to overcome something like this. “I’ve been trying to teach them that if one day someone doesn’t want to talk to them, it’s OK,” she says. “Maybe they just need a moment by themselves. That doesn’t mean they’re not your friend or they don’t want to talk to you anymore — they just need some time alone.”

Blancas wasn’t expecting the video to go viral, but she’s getting some lessons out of it. “I’m telling the kids, ‘Now more than ever, you need to be the best leaders you can be because now people are looking at you, the other classes, the principal, everybody’s looking at you,’” she says.

The kids are loving their newfound fame. “They were very excited! They were like, ‘Wow the numbers! It’s that many?!’” she says. “And I told them, ‘Look, there’s people from France talking about you, people from Malaysia talking about you.’ Then we go to their maps and we turn it into a little geography lesson.”

But popularity has its price, and she’s making sure her students know that. “I tell them, ‘This is another lesson that you need to be very careful about what you put up on the internet because look how many people can see.’”

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