If we asked you to list some groups that have kindness woven into their core mission, you might think of charities, church clubs or scout troops. We believe Bayfield High School should be on the list too—especially when “dude. be nice.” week rolls around each spring.
An organized focus on kindness at BHS began a few years ago when the Rachel’s Challenge program came to address the school and help start a Friends of Rachel (FOR) group. Named for Rachel Scott, the first student to die in the Columbine High School tragedy, Rachel’s Challenge aims to help make schools safer, more connected places where bullying and violence are replaced with kindness and respect.
The counselors in their matching outfits–including “dude. be nice.” t-shirts–ready for the big week!
At first, the FOR Club at BHS was relatively small. The acts of kindness the students came up with tended to be modest as well, such as putting encouraging notes on lockers and giving small gifts to teachers.
Several years later, the movement has taken off! Jen Leithauser, school counselor and advisor to the FOR Club, says the group is now 40-50 members large, and some of the activities are quite ambitious.
The FOR Club organizes “dude. be nice.” week at the end of April each year. Groups—from the entire club to the color teams (more on this in a later post) to groups within teams—design kindness activities. One team headed to the Evenings Porch assisted living facility to bake cookies with the residents. Another went across town to the elementary school to have lunch with students who need a little extra attention. One more group decided to show up at school very early to clean classrooms and surprise the janitors with some time to themselves.
The week kicked off with an assembly featuring student speakers and a round of “kindness karaoke” that even Ms. Leithauser wasn’t sure the kids could pull off. After that kind of beginning, where does kindness stop at BHS? Apparently, it doesn’t. Members of the FOR Club do little things throughout the year. In the fall, for instance, the entire school took a trip to see the movie, Wonder (tickets partly funded by the BEF) and wrote essays and mottos to capture their thoughts.
About her role as advisor, Ms. Leithauser says, “This is my favorite thing. I really do think it makes a difference.” With a big smile she shares that a recent BHS grad and FOR Club leader contacted her to say she started a FOR Club at her college.
That’s the “kind of kind” that just might change the world.