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Murray Journal

Students learn to be kind to one another, themselves at Grant Elementary

Mar 08, 2021 11:21AM ● By Julie Slama

During Grant Elementary’s second annual kindness week, students painted rocks to make a kindness garden. (Photo courtesy of Grant Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

One Team.

That was the message for elementary students attending Grant Elementary in February as they celebrated the school’s third annual kindness week.

During the three-day school week, Feb. 16-18, students focused on different emphases such as “hip hip hooray!” day, when they practiced being kind to themselves and others.

“As part of our social-emotional learning, we practice positive self-talk and sharing those kind words with others; we want them to give themselves a compliment as well as the person next to them,” said school social worker Sierra Marsh, who introduced the kindness week to tie into the National Random Acts of Kindness Day on Feb. 17. “We decided to tie in the week to our school theme, ‘stronger together’ and sports.”

On Feb. 17, they celebrated “Home run,” a day where they focused on kind acts for the family or in their homes. They asked families to share on a Google form their kind acts and how it changed their family so others could see the impact of a simple kind act.

The last day, they celebrated “make kindness the goal” by sharing kindness in the classroom and deciding upon a goal for the entire class.

In addition, the school had a week-long mission to support Grant Elementary’s Souper Bowl—by bringing canned goods or non-perishable items for the school’s new food pantry.

“We have families who can benefit from additional help, so we thought as part of kindness week, we could have a collection for our first-ever food pantry,” Marsh said.

Many of the kindness acts were done during the students’ daily community circles, a time when the class gathers together and shares, so it was incorporated into their school day.

“This year, with COVID, the week looks a little different, but the emphasis on kindness is still here,” she said. “Kindness is often something we say, such as ‘be kind,’ but a lot of us need practice as to what it looks like—to shine importance on it. We need to create a culture embedded in kindness here, including what kindness looks like to ourselves. We want to create a safe place for every student and have kindness be a part of it.”

In the first year of kindness week, students celebrated Colors of Kindness by writing kind acts that they performed on slips of paper to create a big chain.

“It was like a big chandelier in our lobby. We had more than 600 acts and it was really fun to see it grow,” Marsh said.

Last year, students created a kindness garden by painting pictures or kind words on rocks and they were on a Kindness Quest, doing some daily challenges created by the Peer Leadership Team, when the pandemic hit. 

The school’s PLT team consists of 13 students from every fourth- through sixth-grade class representing every class in the school as well as one for online learners and one who serves to welcome new students.

This year, the group has not only helped with kindness week, but they also encouraged participation in Unity Day in October, which focused on acceptance and inclusion, and are planning Good Deeds Day on April 12.

“They are aware of the world around them and are brainstorming ways to show appreciation for those in our community,” Marsh said. “It’s been a tough year, so acts of kindness and building relationships are really important. These school-wide celebrations are some of my favorite parts of being at Grant.”