Last Friday over 400 students at Manchester School in Windham celebrated kindness at an assembly featuring skits, speeches and the introduction of a color run to take place in the spring.
“The best part was last year fourth grade students approached Mrs. Weatherbee to start an anti-bullying club,” said principal Danielle Donnini. The team worked to create the name Team Kindness and met at lunch recess to plan activities. The group consists of approximately 30 fourth and fifth graders.
“It has evolved from September into today,” said guidance counselor Jessica Weatherbee. “One little idea can turn into something this huge,” she told the audience of fourth and fifth graders.
On Friday, some of the team put on kindness skits showing how to be nice to someone who gets tripped or drops their books.
The whole week was dedicated to doing something to help others. “They want to expand kindness throughout the whole school,” said Weatherbee. “We want to create a culture of kindness in the building.”
The whole school, led by the chorus, sang a kindness song about “reach out your kind-hearted hand.” All of it part of The Great Kindness Challenge, an online program that encourages schools to devote one week to performing as many acts of kindness as possible, choosing from a 50 item checklist. The items vary from smile at 25 people to walk a dog or cat.
The school also held a door contest on way to show kindness. Many of the classrooms had interactive doors that had quotes and special touches to show and give suggestions on ways to be kind. One door was made to look like an iPhone with apps for kindness, for example Kindness Watchers (Weight Watchers), Teamwork, KindFlix (Netflix), FriendBook and InstaKind.
Student Adrianna Libby said her favorite app was Stand up. “It’s about standing up for yourself.”
Donnini declared that everyone won the contest because it’s all about kindness and everyone wins when it comes to kindness.
Donnini quoted Ellen DeGeneres, “I just think that kindness is something we should all have…We need more of that out there.”
“This week reminded us just a little bit about how we want to be,” said Weatherbee. During the week the students were asked to bring in a food item for the Windham Food Pantry for the privilege of breaking dress code and wearing a hat in school. With a two day notice the school rallied and brought in 283 items to donate.
The also held themed dress up days like “tied together with kindness” where kids wore curly ribbon and bow or neck ties, “crazy for kindness” where they wore mismatched clothes and the “dreaming of kindness” where the students wore pajamas.
The students made iMovie videos about what kindness means to them and they continued talk about “creating a chain reaction,” which they learned about in Rachel’s Challenge.
The Kindness Team has been meeting twice a month and according to Weatherbee, “the students are teaching and guiding me” about what they want to accomplish.
“I’ve seen so much kindness and I know this is going to continue,” said vice principal Kristal Vargo-Ward.
Weatherbee also announced that Mrs. Carle’s class will be organizing a color run as their Community Day project. Manchester hosts a community day every year to celebrate each class doing a year-long project to benefit something in the community. The color run will be a one or two mile, untimed race. Weatherbee, Vargo-Ward and gifted and talented teacher Jennifer Breton volunteered to demonstrate how the color run would work, with students tossing a colored chalk-like substance on their white shirts creating a colorful art piece. The color run is scheduled for April 10th.