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Annual tradition fights discrimination with kindness

A kind reminder

Students and staff at Thornapple Kellogg High School are fighting the frigid temperatures by spreading warmth and kindness.

Taylor VanBeek and McKenna Nichols pictured in the high school hallway during Kindness Week

“Kindness Week is a week where we try to encourage the student body to ‘spread the love,’ ” said senior Jenna Walters. “We realize that we all sort of get in the habit of talking to and sitting by the same people, so for at least a week we wanted students to get out of their comfort zone and make everyone feel equally important through kindness.”

This year’s Kindness Week, sponsored by the student-led Rise Against Discrimination group, landed on the week of Dec. 3 because of the stresses of upcoming final exams.

“We believe the best way to fight discrimination is through kindness,” said Molly Stabler, RAD adviser. “It’s just a few weeks from final exams, a time when students are tired, stressed and busy; it may easily be a time when students and teachers are so focused on their own to-do lists that they forget about the simple power of kindness to others.”

Kaitlyn Robinson poses in one of her outfits for Kindness Week

The latest Kindness Week included daily theme days, each accompanied by a kindness challenge:

  • Monday – Meme Day: Make someone laugh
  • Tuesday – Pajama Day: Be comfy, kind and fuzzy (give someone a hug)
  • Wednesday – Camo Day: Hunting for compliments (give someone a compliment)
  • Thursday – Charity Day: Non-profit/red-out/pink-out t-shirt day (help someone)
  • Friday – Friendship Day: Matching Day (sit by someone new at lunch)

RAD members also sold buttons during lunch. One featured a fist, on which each knuckle is tattooed with letters that spell K-I-N-D, to represent the belief that everyone can use kindness to fight discrimination. The other button pictured a heart emblazoned with the slogan “YOUR WORDS MATTER; Rise Against Discrimination.”

Abigail Bremer and Kate Caldwell smile during the high school’s Week of Kindness

“These represent our conviction that everyone should have a voice and that words are powerful in our mission of equal dignity for all of our students,” said Scott Aldrich, RAD adviser.

Money collected from the sale will be used to fund the group’s next outreach event, a district-wide Martin Luther King Day poetry contest in which five winning poems — one from every school in the district — will win cash prizes as well as have their poem read out loud over the high school PA on MLK Day.

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High school students spread kindness through service to larger community

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Hannah Lentz
Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit.

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