By KAITLYN NAPLES
The one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has come and gone, yet 900 students at Greene-Hills School, along with their teachers, are spending the month of December performing random acts of kindness, as a way to “try and change the world a bit” and inspire good in the community.
Recently, the parents and families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre released a statement encouraging the public to join them in performing acts of kindness in memory of the 26 children and adults who lost their lives on Dec. 14, 2012. Last month, Special Education teacher Sharon Campolo sent a letter to her co-workers at Greene-Hills regarding an initiative she had come up with called “Random Acts of Kindness.”
Campolo is a former resident of Sandy Hook, and received her elementary education at that same school that was filled with horror and devastation on a cold Friday morning late last year.
“Our claim to fame used to be the very large flagpole in the middle of Main Street,” Campolo wrote to her cohorts at Greene Hills. “Unfortunately, we are now known for the tragedy that took place in the halls where I developed my love of learning.”
As a way to join the families of the victims in the efforts to perform acts of kindness for 26 days, Campolo came up with a program for the Greene-Hills students to also perform acts of kindness and try and reach a goal of 2,400 in 26 days.
“We’re all trying to take a horrible thing and inspire good through acts of kindness,” Campolo said, adding that she figured that the school has 900 students, so if they all performed even one there would be 900 acts of kindness. As of last Wednesday morning, the school had already performed 520 acts of kindness.
Due to the sensitivity of the Sandy Hook subject, Campolo said the students didn’t necessarily need to know the inspiration behind this program, but to just why it was important to be kind and how “doing kind things for others can have a powerful and positive effect on another life.”
The students watched a video that Campolo videotaped and her husband edited, which she said was his act of kindness to her. The teachers were able to show their students the video to kick off the program. Then, throughout the month of December, students are writing down their acts of kindness performed and handing them in to their teachers to be tallied.
“It has been really amazing how everyone can be helpful and how it is just a habit,” and you don’t even realize it, said 10-year-old Kelly Barrett, who is in the fifth grade.
Another fifth grader, 10-year-old Lexi Michaud, said “it is so wonderful to have people be so kind and going out of their way to help people.” Michaud said she and Barrett helped make a peer a new calendar, after his went missing, as one of their acts of kindness.
Brandon Alers, a 9-year-old fourth grader, said he had noticed some bullying happening at recess among students, and said ever since the Random Acts of Kindness program started, the bullying has stopped.
“Maybe everyone can write a note to say they like this program and to keep it going (once December is over),” Alers said, adding he thinks the whole school is enjoying the initiative. He also added he helped a friend out when he got hurt, as part of his kindness act.
Another fourth grade student, Mya Rossignol, 9, agreed and said she wants to come up with another program with her classmates to continue the Random Acts of Kindness initiative.
“People helping other people (who may not be friends) are starting to become friends,” Rossignol said, adding she has been helping students who might be upset or crying, feel better.
As the organizer of this initiative, Campolo said hearing the students were truly enjoying it brought her to tears.
“You hope that it is making the impact you had in mind,” she said, adding she has received positive feedback from other teachers, who have also been incorporating the acts of kindness into their curriculum. “It’s very touching.”
The students said they will continue to remind their peers about the Random Acts of Kindness program, and continue to be kind to set an example, even after December to continue to make their school, and community, positive environments.
Campolo said she hopes the Random Acts of Kindness program will continue every year, and hopes it will catch on at the other schools in Bristol, and beyond.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.
By KAITLYN NAPLES