Lending A Hand: Suburban School Holds Kindness Celebration

Bernie Tafoya
November 09, 2018 - 2:13 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- With all the negativity and nastiness in the world these days, children at a school in Des Plaines remind us what we could use more of:  kindness.  

"This is all about kindness," said teacher Gabrielle Stremers of North Elementary School.

The school had a special kindness celebration on Friday in advance of next week's World Kindness Week.

Students wrote on a six-foot long paper, named the Kindness Graffiti Wall with how to be kinder to each other. They also filled out strips of paper on ways they have been kind such as:

  • When the new kid was alone…I told her she could play with me.
  • I defended a person when they were being bullied. 
  • I gave someone a compliment.
  • I help people.
  • When someone was crying in our class because she didn't get the math stuff, I told her that I could help her.

During Friday’s event, students played games in which they gave each other compliments and put their handprints on a paper mural that read: Lend A Hand. North School Chooses Kind. 

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

North Elementary School has daily class get-togethers called the Morning Meeting where students sit in a circle and talk about ways to be kinder to each other and how to resolve differences among one another. 

Fifth grader Delilah Montoya likes what she sees so far.

"People are starting to hold doors for others. People are starting to give compliments and include others in recess games," Montoya said.

Fifth grader Maya Owca said she sees the kindess values rubbing off her classmates. 

"I see people like, if somebody drops a book or something like that, [or> papers, they pick it up for them," Owca said.

Stremers said she and other teachers hope the kindness program has long-lasting results on the students.

"We are having them interact with each other and communicate what kindness is, what it looks like, what it sounds like and we’re hoping that it translates, not only within our school, but outside in the community, as well," she said.

Stremers said that many students at North come from other countries such as Mexico, Poland, China and Japan, and added they are helping other students feel like part of the community. 

"Students are just going above and beyond to make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable and feels like they’re important and valued," she said.

Principal Denise Fernandez said there have been fewer discipline problems since the school’s kindness program began in September.

Delilah Montoya said she likes going to school much more since the program began.

"It makes me feel really good," Montoya said.