Kindness, Healthy Choices Highlight Red Ribbon Week
Kindness is contagious at Roosevelt Elementary School. And with reminders in the hallways, the classrooms and during special assemblies, how could it not be? The effort is part of the school’s first Cultivate Kindness Week, Oct. 23-27, and was initiated as an extra reinforcement to the national Red Ribbon Week, in which schools across the country, including the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, participate in anti-drug campaigns to promote good choices and healthy lifestyles.
At Roosevelt, where students range from pre-kindergarten to second grade, the idea of promoting kindness and thinking of others seemed to be a more relatable lesson for its young audience, according to school officials, and a perfect way to engrain compassion and empathy for others in addition to Red Ribbon’s message of living healthy lifestyles.
Social worker Ms. Migdalia Rosario, in working with Principal Ms. Tami McElwee said, “We believe that kindness is powerful and can create a compassionate school environment that will change the world for good and, in turn, help students make lifelong positive choices.”
That message is loud and clear as you walk through the halls of the school. There’s a large, colorful mural titled, “Plant Seeds of Kindness,” with a garden of flowers featuring photos and statements about kindness from each class in the building. Down the hall, “Acts of Kindness” trees will be covered with leaves displaying thoughtful deeds the students perform.
A Cultivate Kindness assembly taught student how to plant seeds of kindness and make them grow through a cartoon slideshow presented by Rich Specht, former science teacher and co-founder of the Reespect Life Foundation. Students received a “Pay it Forward Card” and were asked to take what they learned and spread kindness to others. Students also received colorful “Kindness - Pass It On” bracelets to wear throughout the week. And, as an ongoing effort, teachers are sending a signed slip home to parents when their child performs a special act in the classroom.
In addition to Kindness Week, students joined the Red Ribbon campaign by participating in different activities each day of the week, such as wearing pajamas for “Dreaming of Kindness Day” or donating change to the American Red Cross for “Coins of Kindness Day.” The school also dedicated a day to “Wear Read Instead” to share the districtwide tradition of promoting good choices and leading healthy lifestyles.
At Vernon, the Red Ribbon Week theme was “Better Things to Do Than Drugs!” To reinforce positive decision-making, a slideshow of all the positive things students are doing was presented. In addition to wearing “Read Instead,” activities included wearing silly, mismatched socks for “Sock it to Drugs Day,” wearing pajamas for “Follow Your Dreams, Don’t Do Drugs Day” and participating in a canned food drive for “I Can, You Can, Be Drug Free Day.” Social worker Nicole Silva also offered resources to parents, such as the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids at www.drugfree.org, which offers tips to parents about speaking to their children about drugs and alcohol in a developmentally appropriate way.
At Oyster Bay High School, students in the SADD club, (Students Against Destructive Decisions) traditionally assist with the week’s activities, under the advisement of social worker Matthew Brown. The week began by giving out red ribbons to students and staff, and conducting a food drive with the catch phrase, “I Can, You Can, we all Can Be Drug Free and Feed the Hungry.” Other activities included “Hugs not Drugs Day,” “Wear Red Instead Day” and “Unity Day,” a national movement in which participants wear orange in support of kindness, acceptance and inclusion.
SADD also conducted its annual Grim Reaper Day as a solemn reminder that every 32 minutes a young person loses his or her life as a result of drugs and alcohol. Throughout the day, a gong rang every 32 minutes as a SADD member, dressed as the Grim Reaper, entered a classroom and “tapped” a pre-determined volunteer on the shoulder. The volunteer symbolically died and a placard was placed around the volunteer’s neck describing the tragic event that led to his or her demise. At the end of the day, all volunteers wearing placards gathered for a closing ceremony.
A “Plant Seeds of Kindness” murals welcomes visitors with a garden of flowers featuring photos and statements about kindness from each class in the building.
A Cultivate Kindness assembly taught student how to plant seeds of kindness and make them grow through a cartoon slideshow presented by Rich Specht, former science teacher and co-founder of the Reespect Life Foundation.
These "Acts of Kindness” trees will be covered with leaves displaying thoughtful deeds the students perform.
Vernon School wore pajamas for "Follow Your Dreams, Don't Do Drugs Day" during Red Ribbon Week.
During a ceremony on Grim Reaper Day, OBHS students read the placards that describe how students symbolically died because of poor decision-making.