HILDRETH — Raela Tuttle didn’t want to wear her necklace around her neck so Tessa Wilkins helped her wrap it into a makeshift bracelet on Tuttle’s arm.
It was a simple act of kindness between the second grader and sixth grader that their school, Wilcox-Hildreth Public School, is promoting this week. It’s the third year the school has done Random Acts of Kindness Week to promote mental health and being kind to others, said Kelly Simmons, K-6 guidance counselor.
“We just do different things throughout the week. Yesterday (Monday) we had a guest speaker from the Kim Foundation out of Omaha. It’s a nonprofit organization that promotes mental health and suicide awareness,” Simmons said.
Kim Foundation Project coordinator Katie Zimmerman spoke to the student body about the importance of mental health. She also spoke to the 7-12 grades about suicide prevention and how to help themselves or others.
“We kicked that off that you have to be kind to yourself in order to be kind to others,” Simmons said.
On Tuesday, the K-6 students gathered together in the gymnasium at Hildreth to take part in the Character Corral. The sixth grade students prepared for more than a week to talk to their younger peers about the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
“I describe the six pillars to (the sixth-graders) as what is a pillar? They will say, ‘It supports a building.’ I say, ‘That is why we call it the six pillars because the pillars support our character. The six traits that are in the pillars are all good ways to have good character and support our character,’” Simmons explained.
During Tuesday’s activity, the students were divided into groups and rotated between six stations led by the sixth-grade students. The elder students asked the group what they know about the trait they were discussing and were asked to illustrate an example of the trait in their character book. At the end of each session, they were given a tag representing each pillar of character to add to their necklace, a memento they were able to take away from the Character Corral.
Throughout the week, kindergarten through second grade participate in a Tic-Tac-Toe Kindness Challenge, while 3-12 grades will play Kindness Bingo. They also began Pennies for Patients to collect money until the end of the month for the leukemia and lymphoma society. The class who collects the most money will earn a pizza party.
When the gym’s buzzer signaled the end of one session Tuesday, the students excitedly would stampede to the next station. In order to calm the environment, Simmons would chant “kindness” and they would echo back “counts,” a gentle reminder of the reason behind the entire week.