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Day set aside to remind students school should be ‘safe, welcoming, comfortable’

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CARRYING THE BANNER — NRHEG first-grade students say “Kindness Matters” on Tuesday, January 17th at Ellendale School. From left: Aden Berg, Bree Ihrke, Taya Lembke, Logan Adams, Anton Domeier, Zac Possin, Cody Reistad, Alexus Chambers, Evan Schaefer, Mason Klemmensen, Spencer Swenson, Charles Tipton, Bailey Ihrke, Sidney Schultz, Evan Beckmann, Eva Wayne, Avery Routh, Sawyer Prigge and Gavin Wilkenson. The students are instructed by Jill Boran. (Star Eagle photo by Jody Wynnemer)


By JODY WYNNEMER

Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 17 was a “blue” day at Ellendale Elementary.

One normally associates the color blue with sadness, gloom or unhappiness, but students and staff displayed just the opposite as they celebrated “Kindness Matters Because… I Matter” day.

Classrooms and hallways were full of students wearing their blue T-shirts, and blue was even the color of the Jell-O served in the cafeteria at lunchtime.

“Last March a group of school staff got together and formed the Anti-Bullying Committee (ABC) group at the school,” said Elementary Coordinator Doug Anderson. “Ten members make up the committee and meet twice a month to discuss programming for our K-6 elementary school. With the help of that group, as a school we’ve talked about and worked our own school-wide expectations, how to give and get respect, how to handle a bully and how to get help if bullied and that “Kindness Does Matter.”

The school has adopted the following belief statement: “At NRHEG Elementary School we all agree that school should be a safe place for students — a place where they are welcome, comfortable and free to learn.” 

On Tuesday, the day began with a school-wide assembly. Students received a blue anti-bullying wristband, courtesy of the American Federation of teachers. As the assembly ended, all of the students ran through a banner, similar to what one would see at a football game, to get the day underway.

Anderson told the students, “Today we are going to run through the banner as we head back to our classrooms to do our job of being kind, respectful, and polite to others. Kindness matters because you matter. Have a great day!”

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KINDNESS IN ACTION — Rachel Nelson performs during a skit for NRHEG Elementary students Jan. 17. In back are Jacob Tonkin, Jared Reyant and Spencer Hanna. (Star Eagle photo by Jody Wynnemer)

In the afternoon, each grade level of students observed three skits put on by high school students dealing with incidents of bullying, and ways to react when it occurs. Examples included encounters in hallways, the cafeteria or on the school bus. As each skit concluded, NRHEG Social Worker Brooke Krohn would ask the students what they observed and how they felt about what they witnessed. The high school students would then perform a slightly different version of the skit displaying more positive behavior and the kids easily identified the differences.

Besides the skits, several of the actors related their own experiences pertaining to topics such as race,  disabilities, or problems “fitting in” with a particular group.

NRHEG Elementary has implemented several programs, which have been on-going to promote acts of kindness from the students. 

• Every week teachers choose a student for the “Caught You Being Good” drawing held on Wednesdays.

• All school staff have the opportunity to nominate a student for the “Kindness Matters” quarterly drawing. These students are recognized throughout the school and have lunch with the principal.

• Individual classrooms promote “Kindness Matters” with class events and individual student recognition. 

• School-wide surveys have been taken from all school staff and students regarding bullying in our school. A new survey is given at the end of each quarter to monitor building progress.

• The Project Charlie program has been implemented in K-6 to reinforce positive character development in the students. 

“The Kindness Matters program has become an important part of our character building program,” said Anderson. “Each quarter we’ve had a theme to help us focus on our actions and behaviors. During our first quarter, we practiced “Kind Words or No Words.” This quarter we have focused on “Kind Actions.” In just a week our theme for quarter three will be “Manners Matter.” For the last quarter of school, our theme will be “I Matter.”

To prove their commitment to the program, each student was asked to sign the Kindness Matters banner located by the school’s office.

“By signing this banner,” Anderson told the students, “you will show yourself and others you understand the importance of being kind and that you will work hard to be a kind, respectful student who does not bully others. Today we celebrate the kind students and staff who are in this school.”


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