Iron Sharpens Iron
The final week in January started off with a bang for Iron Horse Elementary students, when they were greeted by a big community tunnel, which included school staff, teachers, parents and Mayor Toborg. Balloons, a red carpet, kindness paper chains, and cheers for the students were the kick-off to Kindness Week!
Jenna Munoz, principal at Iron Horse, and Andrea Yahner, school counselor, put together an exciting and inspiring week for kids to focus on kindness. Andrea had been a part of this program at another school and they decided to bring the fun to Iron Horse. The school focuses on different life skills every month and this program paired nicely with those concepts. The entire week was a community effort.
Videos and resource bags were provided to each teacher to help the program along. Spirit days were planned for the week to keep up the excitement, like Dress Like a Twin Day: Twice the Amount Kindness, or Dress like a Rockstar: Kindness Rocks. Each day the morning announcement gave reminders about the challenge. Students discussed learning lessons from times they made unkind choices. At lunch, students shared examples of how they had shown kindness.
Each student received a checklist of kind acts to complete, geared toward different ages. For older grades, among the 50 challenges were to say hello to 5 people or make cards for the custodians. Stations at recess allowed students to make placemats for a homeless shelter, make cards for the schools involved in the Boulder fire, and make thank you cards for the superintendent.
At the end of the week those who completed their challenges received a certificate and got their picture taken with a large frame labeled, “The Great Kindness Challenge,” and photos were displayed in the school. Elementary students made a banner that was presented to Legend High School to open up a continuum and encourage kindness through high school. Iron Horse became certified as a “Great Kindness Challenge School,” and the week was topped off with a school- wide singing of a kindness song they had been learning. It was a great success for the entire community surrounding Iron Horse Elementary school!
The Great Kindness Challenge started with three schools in California ten years ago. Since then, it has grown to include 17 million students in 33,000 schools across 115 different countries! The last week of January is a nice time to brighten up the cold, short days with this fun and inclusive program. It really helped to set kids up for success in the 2nd semester. More ideas and details can be found at thegreatkindnesschallenge.com.
The focus for the week really helped the climate and culture of the school and has continued to have a positive effect. Jenna said the message she wants to share is that kindness matters.
Everything starts with kindness. “If you can choose to be anything, choose to be kind.”