At the beginning of December, the upper school began working on a major challenge, the Kindness Challenge. We started by talking about what kindness is. All members of the faculty were asked to contribute.
“Nothing warms the heart and heals the soul like knowing someone cares about you.”
“Be the friend you would want to have.”
“Kindness is the glue that holds community together. Without it, all is for naught.”
“Kindness encourages more kindness, and living in kindness makes everyone feel safe. In an environment of kindness everyone feels free to be who they are and to pursue happiness.”
“Kindness is how we show our humanity. Kindness demonstrates our ability to empathize with others and share their experience. Kindness overcomes differences and heals wounds. It calms fears and unites us.”
We used these words to guide us in our discussions in homeroom and in advisory groups about why kindness is important. We decided to recognize acts of kindness with a snowflake. The leadership club chose the snowflake because of the Vista M. Kelley quote, “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.” We saw our acts of kindness as small things, but small things that have the power to make a big difference.
It was a challenge because, though there is sincere warmth in our community, we can always do more. We felt it was important to push ourselves to really look, think about our daily interactions, and do better. We can do better, not just in how we treat each other, but in recognizing those who are working, trying, and always fighting the good fight. As a community, we have learned that simple acts of kindness are perhaps the most important acts. Caring doesn't have to be, and isn't just, a grand gesture. It can be a hello in the hall, a pat on the back when someone takes an academic risk in the classroom, a helping hand when someone drops their pencil case. It's a meaningful apology when you made a mistake. It’s keeping the nasty comment or joke at someone else’s expense to yourself. It’s being a good sport on the four square court and playing fair in basketball. It's helping someone with a rough draft, reminding them to pack their math binder, or just listening when they want to talk. It's making people laugh. It's bringing people in and letting them know you’re happy they’re here. It's making every day just a little bit better for someone else, because in the end, all of us reap the rewards!
We are happy to report that every student in the upper school was recognized for an act of kindness. From sharing compliments, to carrying books, to being a good teammate, students and teachers recognize that kindness comes in all forms. As a community, we will continue to treat each other well and recognize and appreciate acts of kindness, no matter how big or small. The upper school is looking forward to a pajama day in the near future, in recognition of their efforts. Nonetheless, the excitement that participating in the challenge brought was, itself, a wonderful reward!