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News >  K-12 education

Shadle Park High, Westview Elementary students bond, challenge each other to be kind

Westview Elementary School student Ashlynn Smith offers her Kindness Card to work with Shadle Park High School students as they gathered to complete their Kindness Challenges on Dec. 15 at Westview.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Westview Elementary School student Ashlynn Smith offers her Kindness Card to work with Shadle Park High School students as they gathered to complete their Kindness Challenges on Dec. 15 at Westview. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

A class of third-graders at Westview Elementary School have found friends in a second period leadership class at Shadle High School. They met for the second time in person last week and shared conversations about school, the best animated Christmas movies and more.

The partnership is the idea of Shadle teacher Brooke Meyer and her sister, Westview teacher Tiffiny Santos. Meyer said she wanted her students to focus on service leadership and also wanted to focus on younger students to get them excited about coming to Shadle in the future.

“We got to talking, and this is what formed,” she said.

Santos said she wanted to do something to make it easier for her students to transition to being back in the classroom instead of virtual.

“We weren’t sharing with others like we had before, we weren’t working together like we were before,” he said.

The two classes have been meeting virtually once a month. They read a book together each time and send projects and notes back and forth. One of the books the students read together was “The Invisible Boy,” by Trudy Ludwig, which is about how small acts of kindness can make children feel included. After reading the story, one of Santos’ students spontaneously stood up and said he often felt invisible. Meyer said her students were moved and wanted to help.

“That really resonated with everyone,” she said.

Santos said the student who said he often felt invisible isn’t the only one who has been struggling. “He’s just the one who spoke up,” she said.

What came from that discussion was a Kindness Passport Challenge. Students were given a small booklet with a different challenge each day, such as playing with someone new or saying “Hi” to a student you don’t know.

During the in-person meeting last week, the younger students prepared decorated cards that listed acts of kindness they promised to keep doing in the future, such as saying “Thank you.”

One student said she would “keep the unkind things in my head and only say kind things.”

One student, however, was reluctant to get up and share. He had been absent for two weeks and missed much of the Passport Challenge. Seeing him struggle, Shadle senior Lavae Tate instantly jumped in with words of encouragement. When that wasn’t enough, he stood with the student at the front of the room while he read his kindness promise.

“He didn’t want to go up,” Tate said. “I just took it as he was probably shy, so I went up.”

Tate said he has enjoyed meeting with the younger students.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “They have kindness goals. It’s kind of cool to see.”

Santos said it’s all about making a connection between the older students and the younger students, and that’s what led to the focus on kindness.

“I think that’s the point, continuing to spread kindness,” Santos said.

Shadle student Brooklyn Brunette said she has liked the focus on kindness and how it doesn’t cost anything to do.

“Words are just as powerful as a gift,” she said. “You can be kind without giving a dime.”

The two groups of students had some hot chocolate together during their visit and the younger students received T-shirts that read “Kindness Crew.”

During the visit, the third-graders sang a rendition of “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” to the older students.

And when it was time for the high school students to leave, everyone waved and said goodbye like they were leaving long lost friends. Until next month, when they’ll meet again.

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