SMSD Students, Staff Spread Kindness

SMSD Students, Staff Spread Kindness
Shawnee Mission School District

Kindness Week engaged students and staff across the district in dedicating time to celebrate and focus on creating a culture of kindness. Jan. 24-28, 2022 marked a week of school communities performing caring acts and spreading cheer, with a goal of inspiring acts of kindness throughout the year. 

Here is a look at just a few highlights from the week at:

●      Indian Woods Middle School

●      Merriam Park Elementary

●      Rhein Benninghoven Elementary

●      Shawnee Mission North HIgh School

See even more examples of SMSD Kindness Week by checking out #SMSDKindnessWeek on Twitter.

Indian Woods

During Kindness Week, Indian Woods students and staff engaged in a series of activities and participated in classroom discussions about kindness and empathy during homeroom known as “Wolf Pack class”.

Members of Student Council (STUCO) took the lead to help share the message of kindness by designing a coloring sheet that said, “Be Kind.” They also decorated the school with banners, posters, and a bulletin board where students took turns posing as the “I” in Kind.

STUCO president, Savannah Ryan, explained that the goal was to create a fun week of activities that would help bring everyone together. “It’s great to connect with others, especially during Kindness Week,” Ryan added. “As much as there is bad in the world, there’s so much more that is good, and we can help share that message and spread kindness.”

Social Worker, Julie Johnson, explained that Kindness Week is an opportunity to celebrate the culture of kindness that makes Indian Woods stand out.

“The students at Indian Woods are an amazing group of kids. We want everyone to know that kindness is what we stand for every day, and that a simple act of kindness can lead to a ripple effect throughout our community. We all play a part in making our community kind,” shared Johnson.


Merriam Park Lighthouse team Leads Kindness Efforts

Members of the Merriam Park student Lighthouse leadership team, including students from all grade levels, developed themes and activities for all students to participate in each day of Kindness Week. They shared daily school announcements about kindness. They also interviewed their peers about how they are seeing kindness carried out in their school.

The last two years made school unusual and challenging, so Kindness Week took on a level of greater importance with students, Analia Zamora Ruano, sixth grader and leadership executive member shared.

“I want to participate in this even more than I did in previous years,” Zamora Ruano expressed. “We are all doing anything we can to make the school better and it’s fun to be able to do this because it brings us all together.”

On one theme day, students took a day to write a kind note to a teacher, highlighted sixth-grader and leadership executive team member Noah Coons.

“We hope it will make the teachers feel better about themselves and raise their spirits,” Coons added.

As a new student at Merriam Park, David Morales-Arroyo, sixth-grader and leadership executive Team member knows just how important kindness is and wants everyone in the school to have the same experience he has had.

“I am really happy here because everyone is really welcoming,” Morales-Arroyo said. “It makes me want to come to school because of the friends I’ve met and because of how everyone treats me.”

Kindness week gave students an important chance to practice caring acts that can continue the rest of the year, Taylor Hollingsworth, sixth-grader and leadership executive team member expressed.  “I feel like it’s proven to kids that it is not that hard to be kind,” Hollingsworth shared. “I feel like this will help our school a bunch!”

Principal Amy Simeonov said she was proud of the way that the Lighthouse team has invested in the work and modeled the importance of kindness. The team already has future acts of service planned to continue spreading kindness at their school, including a project to restore a Buddy Bench for peers.

Rhein Benninghoven

Rhein Benninghoven students and staff observed the week by joining in the international Great Kindness Challenge. This initiative joined 110 countries, 17 million students and 33,000 schools around the world. This marked the school’s ninth year participating in the Great Kindness Challenge.

Community members, first responders and mascot, Benny the Knight, greeted Rhein Benninghoven students as they arrived at school on Monday, January 24, to begin their week focused on kindness.

“Participating in Kindness Week is important,” shared Grace Chalfie, sixth grader. “It’s good to be kind and set examples for the younger grades. By learning from us, they can continue the kindness culture for the future.”

Rhein Benninghoven concluded the kindness-filled week with an activity called “Share Your Love Buckets of Kindness.” Each grade level filled a bucket with hygiene items that will be given to the school nurse for distribution.

“The Bucket of Kindness helps everyone and makes everyone feel important and included,” continued Chalfie. “It’s awesome to be a part of something so kind and big, along with 17 million other kids across the world.”

The school also gained support from the extended community. Shawnee Deputy Fire Chief, Ryan Pyle, expressed appreciation for the Knights commitment to being kind and “their hard work to focus on this important initiative.” “We are very proud to have them as a part of our community.”

Shawnee Mission North

Jobs for America’s Graduates- Kansas (JAG-K) students helped lead several of the Kindness Week activities at Shawnee Mission North.

They engaged students and staff in writing on paper lightbulbs, inviting individuals to finish the sentence “Brighten the school with kindness by…” JAG-K students then hung up the responses in the school building for all to see. They also worked together with students enrolled in the Access to Comprehensive Education program to put together gifts for Shawnee Mission staff, a project Payten Bush said was one of the best parts of the week.

Bush said that students and staff reacted to Kindness Week pretty positively.

“I hope it all continues to remind everyone to respect each other and carry it on throughout the school year,” Bush expressed.

JAG-K is an elective that engages students in exploring career opportunities and practicing soft-skills in preparation for college and career.