NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Students at a Niagara Falls elementary school are rallying behind Damar Hamlin — and their Bills spirit day was all about hope in the face of hardships.

“Definitely hope, faith and all the love and positivity that we’ve seen the last couple of days,” said Jessica Cartonia, teaching assistant.

That’s the focus of Damar Hamlin Day at Geraldine J. Mann Elementary.

This Niagara Falls school is packed with little Bills fans, and after that scary scene on the field in Cincinnati, Principal Italo Baldassarre didn’t shy away from the conversation.

“Not only are we teaching students reading and writing and math. But, we’re also teaching them to cope with everything that happens in life,” Baldassarre said. “And we’ve used this as an opportunity to share with our students what it means to come together as a community, what it means to have hope and what it means to pull together in support of one another.”

Students are staying up-to-date with Hamlin’s progress through the morning announcements.

While donning red, white and blue, students take time during lunch to write well wishes for Hamlin. You can see those drawings everywhere you look throughout the school.

Jessica Cartonia is a parent and teaching assistant. She said students need role models for kindness, like Hamlin, starting at a young age.

“As a parent and being in the classroom with the littles, you start early and it catches on and it’s a trickle effect and that’s what we want,” added Cartonia. “It’s the kindness the world needs.”

Principal Baldassarre said students are processing Hamlin’s injury in so many different ways. And having access to supportive adults is incredibly important.

New on

Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.