HUDSON FALLS | When the students at Hudson Falls Intermediate School arrived to start their day on Monday, they received a hero’s welcome through a “kindness tunnel.”
As they walked down the hallway, they received high-fives and greetings from local police, elected officials and costumed mascots on either side.
The fanfare was to kick off the school’s Great Kindness Challenge, which is a week dedicated to doing good deeds for others.
“I thought it was great because we got to high-five the people who are helping our state,” said 9-year-old Traben Patterson.
Traben said he is going to donate money to a local soup kitchen as one of his good deeds.
The energy in the hallways was just phenomenal, according to fourth-grade teacher Heather Craner.
“The smiles were great,” she said.
The Great Kindness Challenge was started by an organization called Kids for Peace in 2012 to address bullying and improve school climate, according to its website. It began with three schools in Carlsbad, California, and has grown to nearly 2.2 million children across the country participating in 2015.
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Students have a checklist of 50 items such as “smile at 25 nice people,” “hug your friend,” “say ‘good morning’ to 15 people” and “hold the door open for someone.” They try to complete as many of the items as possible.
Craner wanted to bring the event to the school.
The students have heard in the past from motivational speaker Rich Johns. His message is for students to work on their “99 percent,” which is everything but the 1 percent that others can see. This represents their character and their actions.
Craner said school officials want the theme of kindness to permeate throughout the children’s lives.
“It’s not just about being kind in school,” she said. “It’s about being kind in the community.”
The school has set a goal of doing a combined 16,000 acts of kindness, according to Craner.
“If we reach that, our principal Mr. (Michael) McTague will dress up in a court jester’s costume,” she said.
She said the school has a week of activities planned to get students in the spirit. Monday was Crazy Hat Day. Friday will be Crazy Sock Day.
Fourth-grader Brookelyn Lord, 10, said she had already checked off some items on her list. She smiled at 25 people and has complimented five people.
Fourth-grader Ethan France, 9, said he also complimented people and he helped his teacher get some Magic Markers from the library.
Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Don Jett enjoyed taking part in the kickoff.
“It’s a blast. It’s a good time and if we can help out the kids, it’s always a good thing. Hopefully, they get a rapport with us so they’re willing to speak out,” he said.
McTague, the principal, is optimistic that the children will reach the goal. He has his jester’s costume ready.
This event fits in with the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports program, McTague said. It is a good time to do this during the winter to bring this message to the forefront.
“It’s nice to have a nice shot in the arm in the middle of the year,” he said.