by Lori Pacheco
In the spring of 2015 I had the honor of meeting Dina Creiger at the MESPA conference on Cape Cod. I loved the sweatshirts she was selling and just had to have one. Thus, my addiction to Choose To Be Nice had begun. I came back and bought a Choose To Be Nice shirt for every staff member at our school, and we adopted the Choose To Be Nice theme for the 2015-2016 school year. Each year we expand on the theme and its teachings.
During year one, I started a Choose To Be Nice Club for the first graders at Charlton Elementary School. That year we had 18 students in the club and 4 leaders that rotated each time we met. The club gathered together after school twice a month for the year. In year two I was hoping for a few more students and was pleasantly surprised with 35 members. Now it is year 3, and I am overwhelmed with 63 student members!
These 63 first graders are broken up into 9 groups. Each group has its own leader and is named after one of the nine nice mice. These groups will stay the same throughout the year in order to allow for great bonds to build, and friendships to develop.
What do we do at our meetings…everything nice! We have made toys and donated them to an animal shelter. At the holidays, we went caroling around the town. We have picked up garbage to improve our environment and make our community a nicer place. We made dinner for our local firemen and were then lucky enough to visit the station for a guided tour. At one meeting, we decorated the sidewalks with kind messages in order to brighten up someone’s walk down our local streets. We even adopted a soldier overseas and for 2 years sent him letters and packages. At our next meeting we are making kindness book marks and then are walking to our local library to hide them in books.
My favorite activities with the Choose To Be Nice Club have been the ones that we shared with the residents of the Overlook. Each year we set aside two of our meetings to spend with our Overlook friends. They come to our school for a meeting and then they reciprocate, and we visit the Overlook. At our first meeting we play games and get to know each other. At our second meeting we put on a concert for them in their grand music hall. I encourage the children to ask our Overlook friends questions and learn about them and the things that have been important to them throughout their life. The relationships that are forged between our young students and these incredible seniors are a highlight of our Choose To Be Nice Club. To see the generations sharing snacks, stories and laughter together gives me great joy!
If you would like to start a Choose To Be Nice Club at your school, or if you would like ideas on how to incorporate this theme into the daily life of the school, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to share, as I am so passionate about the important message it sends. FYI…my addiction with Choose To Be Nice has grown to 2 sweatshirts, 2 short sleeved t-shirts, 1 long-sleeve t-shirt, a lanyard and a bag. I hope the whole world is soon addicted to this message too!