(by Karen Campbell, Weakley County Schools Communications Director)
Based on the beliefs that “kindness is strength” and that as an action is repeated, a habit is formed, the Great Kindness Challenge is now in more than 24,000 schools including those in Weakley County.
Most Weakley Schools will observe the week beginning January 27.
The Great Kindness Challenge is a grassroots movement observed in more than 110 countries. The event is usually a week long and encourages schools and communities “to make the world a kinder and more compassionate place for all.”
While the manner in which Weakley County schools are observing the emphasis varies – some with themed apparel days to underscore a message and others with specific checklists of kind acts to perform – the emphasis on kindness is set.
Suggested kind acts for schools to promote are: smiling at a certain number of people, complimenting others, telling a joke and making someone laugh, write thank you notes or letters, help a teacher with a task, and even cleaning your room at home.
Six of the schools will be underscoring kindness messages using themed attire – Dresden Elementary, Dresden Middle, Gleason, Martin Primary, Martin Elementary, and Sharon. Examples included pajamas to emphasize “dreaming of kindness;” camouflage will remind students “not to hide their kindness;” spirit wear or favorite team’s attire will be for “teaming up for kindness.”
Dresden Elementary is asking each grade to vote on a kindest person in their grade and those will be announced during our Citizen of the Month assembly on Friday. They are jointly — with Dresden Middle — hosting a blood drive on Thursday from 12:00-5:30 p.m. for parents and the community.
Dresden Middle School has a canned soup drive planned. They are collaborating with Rolling Thunder to donate to local veterans in need. UTM Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver will speak to the school. Students can also purchase “Conversation Hearts” for 50 cents and recipients can then pay 50 cents to learn who the sender was. And students will make cards to send to veterans.
Greenfield faculty will be on the lookout for acts of kindness this week and the rewards will range from a piece of candy to coupons for a meal at McDonald’s. Kindergarten through second grade will enter a coloring contest. Grades 3-5 will be drawing pictures of kindness. Grades 6-8 will express themselves in poetry. The elementary school will also be making cards for veterans and nursing home residents.
Martin Elementary is doing dress up days, a coloring and drawing contest that will be displayed in the gym, and kindness challenges for students and staff. Each classroom was encouraged to do a project of their own to promote kindness.
Martin Middle School will feature daily announcements about an aspect of kindness read by a different student each day and students will be encouraged to focus on that aspect throughout the day. They are also promoting a poster contest and essay contest for prizes. Students will sign a large banner after they display an act of kindness. On Friday, an 8th grade student, Jeremiah Britt, will do the announcements and talk about his initiative to reach money for St. Jude’s Hospital. His fundraising idea will take place in February.
At Sharon School, January 31 will be Sharon’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports reward day for kindergarten-8th grade. Their activities include a photo op for putting the “I” in Kind.
Westview has plans for a door decorating contest highlighting a kindness, positive, or anti-bullying theme. The doors will be judged, and the classroom with the best door will receive a prize. Students will receive a list of acts of kindness suggestions and also be collecting items for the Target House at St. Jude.
Dresden High started the week by reminding students, “In a world where you can be anything, choose to be KIND!” Each day different ways to promote kindness are planned. On Monday, a sheet of suggested kindness acts was distributed. Tuesday students sign a declaration for having a “Heart of a Lion.” On Wednesday a photo op for social media will be available. On Thursday, community members have a special greeting planned for students and a school-wide photo depicting a heart is being arranged. And on Friday, students will turn in their chronicle of “Kind Acts” and be eligible for a drawing for Walmart gift cards. Students will also select the kindest students from each grade.
Gleason School will be observing the Kindness Challenge February 10-14.
The elementary students will participate in dress up days and reading books with kindness themes. The middle and high school students will be selling candy grams — positive message to be sent to a friend or teacher for $1. The entire school is also encouraged to make Valentine cards for St. Jude, and a card is also being signed for a student who is currently serving in the military who graduated last year. “Kindness Matters” t-shirts are being sold to be worn Friday, Feb 14 with proceeds from shirt sales as well as the candy grams benefitting the American Heart Association.
School nurses, coordinated school heath teams, and Weakley County Youth Coalition groups are among the masterminds for planning, promoting and coordinating activities throughout the week.