Keeping true to kindness

School leaders to continue movement after successful inaugural year

Junior+Semi+Ojernide+and+senior+Wesley+Brewer+hold+the+front+door+open+at+Main+before+school+on+Monday%2C+May+20.
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Keeping true to kindness

Junior Semi Ojernide and senior Wesley Brewer hold the front door open at Main before school on Monday, May 20.

Junior Semi Ojernide and senior Wesley Brewer hold the front door open at Main before school on Monday, May 20.

Valerie Benzinger

Junior Semi Ojernide and senior Wesley Brewer hold the front door open at Main before school on Monday, May 20.

Valerie Benzinger

Valerie Benzinger

Junior Semi Ojernide and senior Wesley Brewer hold the front door open at Main before school on Monday, May 20.

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This year was the first of StuCo adviser Allison Stamey’s kindness initiative. The movement was first proposed by Stamey in February 2017 and called for a district-wide push to encourage kind interactions among the student body. Throughout the course of the school year, Stamey has seen the school culture change as a result of the movement.

“I think being able to communicate with each other and feeling like [school] is home [has improved],” Stamey said. “People feel welcome here. I think it’s definitely helped the culture of the school so everybody is more accepting. It’s a more positive climate. The whole point was to practice being kind to each other so it becomes more normal behavior and you’re not forcing kindness. So I think, for our first year of doing it, it’s been successful.”

Although Stamey views this year as a success, she still sees room for improvement. As the planning for next year’s initiative begins, she strives to make the kindness movement stronger.

“We need to bring our Kindness Ambassadors together more often, like meeting once a month,” Stamey said. “We learned [this year] that they need to be able to work closer together.”

As a result of the kindness movement, Stamey and senior project officer Wesley Brewer were invited to speak about the initiative in front of thousands of StuCo students from around the metroplex at the LEADworthy convention at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie on March 6, 2019. Brewer assisted Stamey by giving his perspective as a student, which allowed them to relate their presentation of the kindness movement to students and demonstrate how students can start similar programs at their schools.

It’s free to be kind and it’s easy to be kind. It doesn’t take a lot of work and when more people realize that, then it can make a huge impact in other people’s lives.”

— senior project officer Wesley Brewer

“It was crazy,” Brewer said. “I definitely felt scared because I think it was 5,000 people [in the crowd], but it was something I was really passionate about. I talked about how we started here and what goals we had. [I talked about how] we were just trying to make the school a better place and about the individual projects [we did].”

Brewer was placed as the officer in charge of maintaining and promoting kindness by Stamey. He has been an active participant in spreading the movement and has tried to make it unique. Brewer sees the importance of kindness and has tried to emphasize its value to his classmates. He wants students to put forth effort into being kind people as a result of this movement.

“When you start realizing your actions have a huge effect on other people, whether you mean them to or not, it kind of makes you realize and say your own priorities,” Brewer said. “It’s free to be kind and it’s easy to be kind. It doesn’t take a lot of work and when more people realize that, then it can make a huge impact in other people’s lives.”

As a result of the push for kindness this year, teachers have changed policies to make students feel welcome and encourage kind attitudes in every aspect of the school day.

“For me, it’s very important to be at the door and greet [the students] personally so they feel comfortable here at the class,” English teacher Joseph Gonzalez said. “I know we think kindness is just being nice, but I think it’s more the things you do when people are not looking. [It’s] the things you do [when] people don’t actively notice that makes them comfortable to be around you.”

The local community has taken notice to the school’s movement toward kindness. Principal Jeffrey Kajs wants the community to admire the work put in by the leaders of the kindness initiative and see what high school students are capable of.

I think it’s definitely helped the culture of the school so everybody is more accepting.”

— StuCo adviser Allison Stamey

“It shows the community we have a lot of great young adults in the building that understand what it means to be a good citizen, help others and lead others,” principal Jeffrey Kajs said. “I think it puts high school students in a whole different light when the community might not realize how good we are.”

The leaders of the movement wish to build upon the foundation set this year. The planning for next year’s kindness initiative has already begun between Kajs, Stamey and district assistant chief of schools Andy Plunkett.

“This is something we have to keep working on each year because we keep getting new kids each year,” Kajs said. “We can’t just do it once and stop.”

The driving goal behind the kindness initiative was to improve students’ experiences at school and make kind actions feel normal. Implementing kindness into everyday life, rather than it being a special occurrence, is vital to this movement. Stamey values kindness and hopes the movement taught students why kindness is so important.

“If you wake up happy in the morning and you choose to spread happiness throughout the day, you will feel better in the process,” Stamey said. “That’s what I want people to understand.”

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