Paige Leiderman, Abigale Renninger and Karlee Rutter show the positive messages they taped to students' lockers to surprise them the next morning.
Kylie Milshaw holds her bee that she designed with a positive message that reads, "Believe you can and you're halfway there."
Nayeli Fortunato, Abigale Renninger, Jamie Hedrick and Chloe Savage hold decorated rocks they hand painted with positive messages (below)
As she folded hundreds of pieces of tape into sticky circles to attach small cards filled with messages of kindness and positivity to lockers, Abigale Renninger said the work she and her friends were putting into the project was worth it. “It’s so important to show other people how important kindness is,” Abby said as she attached a card that said, “Be the reason that someone smiles today,” to a student’s locker to surprise them the next morning.
Abby is one of many students at the Junior High this week who are taking part in kindness initiatives meant to help spark thought, conversation and change throughout the school as students focus on the simple act of kindness. Abby said the week’s activities were planned when she and others were being bullied and were seeking solutions to help improve relationships among students in the Junior High. When she approached Principal Alex Brown, who was working through the bullying situation with her and her family, he asked her if she wanted to lead a kindness campaign. “ I am a huge believer in student empowerment. I very easily could have put something together for everyone to do; however, that would eliminate the authenticity behind such a great message. In addition, having the students lead the organizing of the initiative teaches them that they have a voice and the power to make a difference, and not always rely on someone else to make a change,” he said.
From that conversation, students organized activities along with administrators and teachers to celebrate kindness. Focused around the theme to “Bee Kind,” the school distributed bee-themed silicone bracelets on Monday. On Tuesday, students arrived at school surprised to find positive messages taped to their lockers thanks to the work of Abby and her friends. On Wednesday, students decorated bee-shaped cutouts with positive messages, with Kylie Milshaw’s “Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” decorated message standing out as a favorite among students and staff. On Thursday, students and staff sported “I”m so kind” t-shirts. And on Friday, students hand decorated rocks to give to staff as a gesture of kindness and appreciation.
Although the week’s activities haven’t magically made bullying go away, Mr. Brown said that he intends to continue and build upon the initiatives that the soon-to-be-freshmen students started, along with other bullying interventions and programming that is regularly presented to students throughout the year, including assemblies and PBIS rewards. Believing that kindness begets kindness, Abby and her friends are hopeful that their message and spirit will stick with students beyond just this week. “After all, it’s really up to us,” said Paige Leiderman, also in eighth grade, who worked with Abby on the kindness campaign. “We’re the ones as students who have to make this a positive environment for everyone.”