The dawn of social media has created a unique challenge with our youth. The anonymity of online interactions has made it far easier for kids to be cruel to each other without seeing the effects first hand.
Seeing the developing issues stemming from cyber bullying amongst her fourth graders, Heritage School Principal Kathleen Pastore began looking for a way to reinforce kindness within her student population. She discovered the Choose To Be Nice program at a workshop, and was very excited to introduce it to her school.
Since that day three years ago, the Choose To Be Nice program has become an integral part of the Heritage School experience. As they explore the pillars of Choose To Be Nice at monthly meetings with their principal, students have learned that their actions can change not only the culture of their school, but that of the wider community as well.
Choose To Be Nice Club
Heritage School students have formed a Choose To Be Nice club, in which they brainstorm activities they could use to create a positive culture at their school. More than 50 students clamored to attend this after school enrichment program, which runs for ten weeks in the fall and ten weeks in the spring!
The Choose To Be Nice Club has done a number of amazing things to boost the spirits of those around them! They have left notes of appreciation for custodians and cafeteria workers, and written and delivered notes of encouragement to the middle schoolers during their standardized testing.
They also created a Positive Ambassadors program, in which Choose To Be Nice Club members take turns greeting students when they arrive at school, give high fives, and say goodbye at the end of the day. They make signs for their peers on special occasions, and write positive notes to leave in each child’s desk. Talk about a positive boost!
Choose To Be Nice Tree
When students arrive at school in the fall, the outline of a barren tree is on the wall. Throughout the year, students write about what they have learned and experienced through the Choose To Be Nice program on colorful leaves, and add them to the tree. By spring, the tree is in full, beautiful bloom. A physical representation of the kindness being cultivated in the Heritage School!
Chews To Be Nice
Humans aren’t the only ones to benefit from the Choose To Be Nice program at the Heritage School! Students collected dog treats for the local animal shelter, and donated them to all of the overjoyed pups with little notes that said “Chews To Be Nice!” The children also arranged for a therapy dog to visit the school, to the delight of humans and canines alike!
The Friendship Squeeze
The Friendship Squeeze is one of the students favorite things to come from the Choose To Be Nice program. At the start of the day, the kids sit on the floor together. They are encouraged to pass along a positive thought to their neighbor, and squeeze their hand as they do so. The positivity wave begins at one end of the room and moves through the entire class, leaving everyone filled with good energy! (This experience will be adapted to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, and we can’t wait to hear what they do!)
The students at Heritage School take great pride in the Choose To Be Nice promise, and are enthusiastic about the changes they are making in the world. They are truly creating a culture of kindness in their school and beyond!