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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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KIND initiative boosts positivity around campus

Freshman+Abby+Ray+poses+in+front+of+the+Be+the+I+in+Kind+poster.
Photo courtesy of Brittany Norton
Freshman Abby Ray poses in front of the “Be the I in Kind” poster.

Junior Grace Casas walks up to a poster at the end of A Hall. She picks up a pen from a stone bench in front of the poster and writes two simple words, be respectful.

“My favorite part of this project is that I’m in on it,” Casas said.

Since 2019, special ed life skills teacher Brittany Norton has been displaying a poster in the Bowie hallways to encourage kindness among students. This poster was put up in time for National Kindness Day which took place on November 13th.

“I saw this teacher do something very similar with an elementary school,” Norton said. “I fell in love with it because I feel like in 2018 it was a very anxious environment, so it was a perfect time for us to start it.”

The poster was hung outside of A Hall and had the letters K, N, and D displayed in large letters.

“So students go up, write a kind or positive message on the letter K, N, or D. There are markers there for them and then they would stand in the yellow space that was empty and become the I in kind,” Norton said. “You take a picture to post on social media and use our hashtag #BowieBeKind and then go and tell everyone to do the same.”

This is the first year Bowie students were allowed to write their own kind messages on the poster which was up for three weeks. During the online school year, Norton’s students emailed their messages to Norton and then she printed them out and put those messages on the posters for them.

“This year, I was excited because we did it a little bit differently,” Norton said. “Instead of us being the only ones having those encouraging messages or positive messages we wanted other people to have positive messages or words of encouragement.”

Having the ability to write personalized messages created more opportunities for positive interactions to take place between the person who writes the message and the person who reads the message. This initiative also encouraged empathy between students.

“You never know what someone’s going through,” Norton said. “You don’t even know how much a compliment can impact somebody who may have been having just a terrible day. And so a smile, even in a quick exchange, hopefully, that’ll be a domino effect that will then cause them to do the same to someone else.”

Students participating in this initiative were encouraged to post a picture of themselves in front of the poster and use the hashtag #BowieBeKind. This social media aspect was beneficial to the project during the online year because students at home could see photos of the poster and send in messages to be put on the poster.

“One of the first things our students said was everybody’s on Twitter and Instagram so they’re the fastest way that you can get the word spread,” Norton said. “Then, when COVID hit, that was perfect because everybody that wasn’t on campus could still go on and see it and they could write their own messages and email them to me and then I would post it for them.”

Four students from Norton’s English class are behind the creation of the poster. The students who helped create this poster hoped people would experience a boost in mood when reading the encouraging phrases.

“I think it’s a really helpful project to spread kindness,” junior Molly Tackett said, “I think it helped.”

The Bowie Buddies also assisted with this initiative. The Bowie Buddies made sure kind words were being written on this poster. They scribbled out any words or drawings that counteracted the intentions of this initiative while also writing their own positive phrases.

“This is the only thing that we’ve done consistently for World Kindness Day,” Norton said. “We’re hoping that if someone’s having a hard time seeing some type of encouraging words will help get them into a more positive mindset.”

Be the I in Kind was intended to spread kindness discreetly and easily. Norton intends to continue this project in the future.

“The start of this project was really because we wanted a way to spread kindness,” Norton said. “Our hopes are that this project will continue to grow, and be an inclusive and useful tool for others.”

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