While World Kindness Day is among the events being observed today, for two Cleburne ISD campuses, it’s a daily practice.
“Color the World with Kindness” is the theme of the 2018-19 school year at Adams Elementary, while at Smith Middle School, members of the newly-formed “Smithonians Promoting Random Acts of Kindness” are impacting their campus climate.
“We’ve always observed a Kindness Week,” Adams Principal Dawn Hitt said. “But when we talked with staff about a theme for this school year, we agreed that kindness went hand-in-hand with our Capturing Kids’ Hearts initiative. ‘Color the World with Kindness’ received the most votes.”
“There’s lots of scientific research behind the effect kindness can have,” Hitt said. “Gestures and words of kindness can raise self-esteem and inspire feelings of happiness. Kindness makes you feel good, whether you are the giver or the receiver.”
At Adams, which several years ago became a “Kindness Certified School” by the Kids for Peace organization, weekly Kindness Challenges to students and staff now go out each week, with a prompt for each day. Signage throughout the campus reinforces the concept.
Among the students to embrace the Kindness initiative at Adams is kindergartner Helena Ward. From the start of school, she took the challenges to heart, according to her principal.
“I’m the magical person—the most in the whole school,” Ward said. “When I hug someone or hold their hand, I’m sending them sweet dreams--for real. I think I make them feel better. But it’s not just me. A little boy at CiCi’s brought my brother a little bouncy ball, and it made him so happy.”
Hitt said she and her staff are seeing a difference in the way her school’s Gators treat each other.
“Just talking to the counselor about this, we can feel a difference,” she said. “We have quite a few students who are new to Adams and Cleburne this year. We’re hearing from those new Gators that they love it here and are happy at our school.”
The principal believes the campaign implemented at her elementary campus will hopefully be carried on by her students, as they leave school each day and as they continue on to middle and high school.
“I feel like our focus on kindness at the elementary level will trickle up,” Hitt said. “I’m hoping the kindness habits our students are developing now will stay with them and have a positive impact on negative problems that can occur as they get older, such as cyberbullying.”
At Smith, the 40 members of Smithonians Performing Random Acts of Kindness have been busy crafting positive notes to be posted on the locker of each of the 800 students at their campus on Tuesday.
Organized by Assistant Principal Alanna Lewallen, students had to apply for membership on the S.P.A.R.K. committee. They have been serving as morning greeters for their fellow Jackets, and maintain affirmation stations in the school library, office and cafeteria, where positive notes can be left for students and staff.
“They’ve had wonderful suggestions for things they can do here at school and in the community,” Lewallen said. “They make sure no one sits alone at lunch and they are working on developing a welcome program for students new to Smith. We’ve only had three meetings, but they are already excited to do something for first responders, along with our bus drivers and custodians.”
Sixth-grader Brenna Hollingsworth is among the S.P.A.R.K. members at Smith.
“I just think kindness is very important when it comes to school—and everywhere,” she said. “At our first meeting, we watched the video, ‘Kindness Boomerang,’ and I was really inspired by that. I hope in what we are doing here, we will see kids better getting along with each other, due to the kindness they are seeing and experiencing.”
Eighth-grade S.P.A.R.K. member Journey Harris says she began her own kindness campaign when she came to Smith in the sixth grade.
“I’ve always tried to be the type of person to do whatever it takes to be kind,” she said. “In sixth grade, we had an affirmation station in one of my classes. When I heard we were going to do it school-wide, I was so excited.”
Harris said she always heads for class in a great mood after greeting classmates at the start of the school day.
“I’ll be standing at the door greeting and it is so much fun,” she said. “I just laugh and laugh. I don’t do this for me, but if I am making some else’s day better, it makes me feel better. When I see another S.P.A.R.K. kid in the hall, they are just glowing. It just makes you happy to be a part of this.”
“I think as we’ve begun to do these random acts of kindness we are seeing a positive response in some kids that we didn’t see that so much from before,” she said. “There are a ton of kind kids in middle school. If we could move beyond S.P.A.R.K. here—and get bigger—I’m a strong believer that my generation could change the world. I will be in high school next year and I’m hoping to start S.P.A.R.K. there.”
Hollingsworth agrees the S.P.A.R.K. effort isn’t limited to her classmates or her campus.
“It’s important for everyone to learn from what we are trying to do here at Smith—and just be kind.”
Adams Elementary Principal Dawn Hitt visits with kindergartner Helena Ward about the kindness theme adopted at the campus this year. Students and staff are issued weekly kindness challenges, with a goal for each school day.
Smith Middle School S.P.A.R.K. members l-r, Brenna Hollingsworth, Journey Harris and Marnie Williams look through the notes of kindness left in the library Affirmation Station. The 40-member Smithonians Performing Random Acts of Kindness is a new student organization at the campus.
Notes were posted on all the lockers at Smith Middle School overnight, with positive messages for each student, in celebration of World Kindness Day. The messages were written by members of S.P.A.R.K. a new campus student organization focused on providing random acts of kindness.