How Our Students’ Perspectives Changed

The objectives of the Challenge mirror the qualities we value here at Crispell: kindness, acceptance and inclusion. We participated in the Middle School Kindness Challenge in the Fall of 2017, and after having an overwhelmingly positive, we decided to accept it again in the Fall of 2018.

I believe the best way to convey the effectiveness of the Challenge is to let you hear firsthand from teachers who led activities in their classrooms:

Stacey Mark: Three times a week, we had a “classroom meeting: during homeroom where we’d talk about different things in the world/school that we see that need to be changed. We’d also brainstorm kind things we could do for others. For example: Before Christmas, we decided to write happy holiday cards to random people.

Helen Fitzgibbons: My class participated in the Letting Go of Anger Through Compassion activity. We had a candid, open discussion with our students about situations in their everyday lives that make them feel angry. We also watched a YouTube clip about how anger physically affects the body. We then explained how meditation is an effective strategy that can help with dissipating anger, then led a guided meditation where we focused on slowing down our breathing and visualizing a positive image. Our students were very enthusiastic and receptive.

John Tobin: We did a math lesson titled “Mental Subtraction of Relationships.” Each student was asked to think of a person very special to them and how their life would be different without this individual. The students took the assignment to hear and truly spent time thinking of all the “what ifs.” The assignment gave them a greater appreciation for this person in their life. We took it one step further: Each student wrote a letter to this special person. They were very heartfelt.

One student, Hailey K., was particularly moved by the Kindness Challenge. Hailey is a person with dwarfism. At the start of the school year, Hailey thought ahead and knew she wanted her peers to learn more about dwarfism, but instead of focusing just on herself, she wanted everyone to celebrate their differences. Hailey designed a “Difference Wall” with her peers, and students filled out forms that asked them to identify a positive unique quality about themselves. We hung the cards in our main hallway, and many students took time out of their day to read the responses.

By starting the school year off with the Kindness Challenge, I noticed our community grew stronger. Instilling a positive and friendly mindset in students grants the school year a smooth start and sets the tone for the rest of the year.