Students at Warren Area High School wanted to start a Random Acts of Kindness group, so Guidance Counselor Matt Menard and two other WAHS teachers decided to volunteer their time to help.
"We started the group close to eight weeks ago. The main reason was to spread kindness, it's our mission," Menard said.
"One of our first activities was to write out 1,800 post-it (notes) and post them on every locker at WAHS, and every desk at the Warren Area Elementary Center . We created cards for every staff member. When the students came in the next day, they read the notes that said 'You are loved,' and the staff cards said, 'You are appreciated'," he said.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
Rewards for good deeds
Matt Menard, Warren Area High School guidance counselor, displays a “gold coin” before a pot of gold on a billboard at WAHS. Students are encouraged to write down one of their good deeds on one side of the paper coins, and their name on the reverse. On St. Patrick’s Day, Monday, March 17 a number of coins will be chosen, and the students with their names on the coins will be rewarded for their acts of kindness.
"The whole thought process was to spread positivity and kindness," he added. "We got a lot of great feedback from both the staff and the students."
Menard said one teacher at WAEC was so touched, that the teacher and students created two large thank-you cards, with inserts from the students pasted inside.
The group, comprised of about 25, meets from 3:15 to 4 p.m. every other week. They are not a club per se, as Menard and the teachers do not get paid as advisors for clubs do.
"Our next scheduled activity ties in with St. Patrick's Day," he said. It involves a pot of gold with a rainbow on a bulletin board in the main hallway at WAHS.
There are also 'gold coins,' cut out from paper. High school students are encouraged to write something kind they have done on one side, and their name on the reverse side., and "wait patiently until March 17, 2014."
Menard said that a number of coins will be chosen, and the students whose names appear on the back will received some type of a reward.
"The idea is to encourage people to do kind things for each other," he said.
Since the students in the group had expressed interest in doing this, Menard researched the internet and found randomactsofkindness.org, which offers ideas, resources and stories.
He said one of the students in the group heard about a young boy with Asperger's Syndrome in Michigan told his mother that he didn't want a birthday party because he had no friends. The story was on a social media website, posted by his mother. The group decided to make and mail birthday cards to the boy.
"We have some ideas for future projects, ideas that come from the students," Menard said. "The projects are within WAHS, between the high school and WAEC, and in the community.
"We want to have monthly movie nights, for any high school student that wants to come," he said, adding that the movies would be PG rated, and inspirational like "Pay it Forward."
The students would be able to socialize, watch the movie and "plant the seeds" for random acts of kindness.
He noted that the group started with just a handful of students and has grown.
"It's not exclusive," Menard said. "We would like more kids to join. What's cool, not only are the number of students growing, there are also teachers that want to be a part of it."