N.Y. kids learn important Thanksgiving lesson: Kindness equals tolerance

YORKTOWN, N.Y. --  Thanksgiving usually comes with wishes for peace, harmony and tranquility -- but it can also bring a cornucopia of stress, tension and anxiety. Is there a holiday cure?

At Mildred E. Strang Middle School in Yorktown, N.Y., students are singing about math. “Multiply’ll get it done, by dividing everyone, and divide gets multiplied or add suspend?” they sing.

But you don’t have to know algebra to understand the most important equation being taught here: Kindness equals tolerance.

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Students at Mildred E. Strang Middle School in Yorktown, N.Y.

CBS News

Asha Rath, 13, is in the 8th grade.

“One of our main focuses is to accept people’s differences,” Asha says. “To know that we’re never all going to be the same -- and to be proud of our differences.” 

But that’s been difficult to square with what they have been seeing this election season. 

“I feel like many people they didn’t respect each other’s different views and different opinions during this election,” Asha says. 

Their teacher tells them that to communicate with others, “you have to be sure you don’t offend them. You try your best not to offend them, but still get your point across,” Asha says. 

Isabel Armstrong, 11, is in the sixth grade

“If one person believes one thing and you believe the other,” Isabel says. “Be kind of like, okay, we have different opinions, I’m okay with that.”

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International Night at Mildred E. Strang Middle School in Yorktown, N.Y.

CBS News

At “International Night,” students learn to walk in other people’s shoes and appreciate customs and foods from around the world 

Eighth grader William Embury, 13, helped emcee the event. He has some advice for people who care coming together to celebrate their differences this Thanksgiving. 

“I feel like families should just stay true to what really matters -- family and friends -- and you should always be kind to each other,” Williams says. 

Over time, stress can lead to serious health challenges, from depression and anxiety to heart attack and stroke.  So this Thanksgiving, treating each other with a dose of kindness, tolerance, and common courtesy, may be just what the doctor ordered. 

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook