Forest Park School Creates Culture of Kindness
It all began in August when the sixth through eighth grade students of Forest Park Adventist Christian School in Everett, Wash., decided to become secret agents of kindness. They each chose an agent name and as a class decided on acts of kindness they could perform at school, such as smiling at everyone they meet, picking up litter around the school, writing letters of affirmation to the staff or fellow students, and giving flowers or compliments every day.
This has continued throughout the year until the Christmas season, when these students decided to secretly provide little gifts every week for each student at school. Everyone is trying to figure out who each agent is, but no one is telling. Rumor has it students in kindergarten through second grade have also become secret agents, and now the former agents are receiving gifts and cards from the new agents and feeling blessed themselves.
And the kindness is spreading. Teachers and staff at the school often observe the students performing acts of kindness. Special kindnesses are recognized with a the student's name written on a Terrific Ticket, which is then put in the school kindness jar. Every Wednesday after chapel two or three names are drawn from the door and prizes are awarded. Sometimes everyone whose name is in the jar gets a prize. It’s not much, but it is motivating.
Outside of the school, students are also reaching out to the community with acts of kindness. One of our church members, Lynn Ellis, recently taught the upper grades to knit hats using a knitting loom. Each student made at least two hats and has gone on to make many more hats to gift.
Jezanae Bell, eighth-grade student, volunteers many Sundays to help feed the homeless. Noticing their needs, she suggested collecting things to help them out. So, when the class made hats, they each donated a homemade hat for the needy. Students have also collected socks, scarves and coats.
Buddy day in December found students packing blessings bags for the homeless. Everyone had brought in donations of things like socks, water bottles, toiletry items, granola bars, adhesive bandages and hand sanitizer. That Friday more than 80 bags were packed. In small groups, students prayed over all the bags that each would be given to the right person who needed it.
Students were encouraged to give them to those in need or to leave them with Loretta Jessop, who leads out in the Forest Park Church’s twice-monthly street feed. Carrie Knittel shared that the two her family had given out were much appreciated by the recipients. Her family asked for more bags to distribute.
Students are also visiting a local rehabilitation/assisted living center monthly. In December the school performed their Christmas program for the residents, with rave reviews from both residents and staff. They further blessed residents by handing out candy canes with cards telling how the treats represent Jesus. But it seems the hugs that were shared with the residents were treasured most of all.
Creating a culture of kindness is also creating an atmosphere of love and friendship. It’s a good feeling to be a part of Forest Park Adventist Christian School.