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Murray Journal

A smile can go a mile – just ask Longview students

Dec 10, 2019 01:25PM ● By Julie Slama

Longview Elementary students embrace their kindness campaign through posters, T-shirts, themed days such as “Peace, Love & Kindness” and by other random acts of kindness. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It was a flashback to the 1960s as Longview Elementary school children dressed in flare jeans, tie-dye shirts with peace signs, beaded necklaces and headbands.

“Peace, Love & Kindness” was just one of the themed days during their kindness campaign. Another day, students came to school all snuggly in their pajamas for “Dream of Kindness” day. And yet another day, they wore appropriate beach attire for “Ride the Wave to Kindness” day.

“We want to build up our community, lift up our kids and be thankful, show gratitude and be kind,” Principal Becky Teo said. 

Teo said that the idea of a kindness week originated with the student council a few years back and that the studentbody supported it. Last year, it was held in the winter, but this year, the PTA wanted to introduce it at the beginning of the school year.

“The PTA has taken it on and it’s something they want to push,” she said. “The kids are writing kind notes to their friends, their family and neighbors and they’re doing kind acts in their community and with other schools. We’re seeing a change where kids are smiling, holding open the door, giving high-fives, picking up trash and just helping out.”

Many of the random acts of kindness are supported on a list that each student received, Teo said.

“Each day students are filling out kindness cards about kind things their peers have done,” she said, adding that  those cards then are used for prize drawings. 

Fourth-grader Zoe Noren said that she made posters for the cafeteria and wrote her teacher, Amy Patterson, a thank-you note in addition to smiling and greeting everyone with “good morning.”

“You want to be nice and friendly and kind to everyone because you want them to treat you that way,” she said. “When I do kind acts, I just want to keep doing them. It feels good to be kind.”

Classmate Jackson Taylor said he said hi to the crossing guard on the way to school, has given others’ compliments and slipped a kind note in a classmate’s backpack as a surprise.

Third-grade teacher Anne Kjar supports that action.

“It’s great when kids ask, ‘Can I put a kind note in a classmate’s backpack or desk?’ It’s the kind of kindness we should have every day. This gives kids a reason to think about it and act on kindness.”

Ashley Smith said a lot of her third-grade class have been writing notes.

“They’re excited when they can write notes or give pictures,” she said, adding that some attach candy to them. “One boy made bracelets for every kid in the class.”

Jackson said he wants to add a poster to those in the hall. Nearby, the posters stated, “Be the reason someone smiles today” and “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s storm cloud; kindness matters.”

“I want to make a poster, maybe say be kind, stop bullying, so everyone can be happier,” he said.

Teo said that supporting a kindness campaign may help students be less aggressive, which could lead to bullying behavior and instead, be supportive and show gratitude for one another.

“We want to build up our environment,” she said. “We want to improve peer behavior, create a positive self-image and be supportive of those with mental health issues. Kindness is something that is needed in the world today.”