MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Amy Crawford, a Maryville teacher, took pictures of some powerful words from her 7th-grade students after she asked them simply, “what are your hopes for this year?”

You can’t miss the colorful post-it notes in the classroom of the 7th grade English teacher. All contain messages from students about their hopes.

“I hope this school year is stress-free,” said student Josie Palmer.

Classmate Logan Stafford said, “this year, I hope I can learn new things and enjoy every minute of it.”

Crawford told us, “I ask my students about their hopes for the school year because I get a peek into what they’re anticipating happening throughout the year.”

One message: “I hope that school is a place I “wanna” come to,” was written by student Skylar Townsend.

“School isn’t usually a place kids want to come to. It’s usually like a day where, ‘ugh, I don’t want to go to school,’ but this year, I feel like you can make a difference and be like, ‘school is a place I’m enjoying this year and want to come to.”

Another message reads “to be happy and meet new friends that aren’t really toxic,” and “to let my story be heard.”

Crawford says, “it is really powerful. When you hear from them in their own handwriting what they’re looking forward to most, it tells me a lot that they wouldn’t necessarily tell me with their words if they spoke to me.”

Student Evan Sexton shared, “it was good to be able to think and think, ‘ I want this to happen, and I can make this happen’ than just diving into the year headfirst.”

Student Lance Warner said, “I was trying to think about what I like in school. I like making good grades and hanging out with friends at school.”

Salaar Gul, another 7th grader, said, ” I also want to get all of my assignments in early.”

Other messages:

“What is hope? I want to feel wanted and liked.”

“That I survive 7th grade.”

“That my friends know they are loved.”

Friends and feeling connected are common themes.

“When I sat down, I thought really long and hard about what I wanted to write down and that’s what came out of it,” said student Riley Morgan.

Classmate Micah Henry said, “what I hope for the year is to get better at math and make new friends because I know there’s a lot of new kids at the school and they probably don’t have any friends.”

“This year, I want to challenge myself to learn new things and meet new people,” said 7th grader Grayson Petree.

Mentoring younger kids is something Elizabeth Almand wants to get right.

“If you say the wrong stuff, you can hurt them. If you say the right stuff, it will lead them in the right way,” Elizabeth said.

What looked like a simple assignment became an important challenge.

As Logan Stafford told us, “I didn’t really know how to feel at first, because this is like, a stupid question, no one will really answer it, like think about it, and then I sat down and I actually did start thinking that this could actually make a difference in people’s lives and just felt like I could change something by thinking and writing down what I want.”

After talking with students, we agreed to come back at the end of the school year next year to see if their hopes were realized, and what they learned overall from this experience.