Kindness is something that is not taken lightly amongst the students and staff at City Park School. The overarching theme for this school year that Emily Jones, City Park's school counselor, instituted is to "treat others kindly." When speaking to her students on this "kindness" theme, Jones goes deeper into matters as she covers topics such as bullying, conflict-resolution, and self-esteem.
"We started doing this last year because I wanted a schoolwide effort towards kindness, to really teach kindness, acceptance, and unity," said Jones.
On October 21, City Park School celebrated Unity Day as the school supported this movement to promote unity and togetherness. Unity Day is a day that is celebrated as the culmination of National Bullying Prevention Month during the month of October. Students and staff in schools across the country are encouraged to wear and share the color orange in support of students who have been bullied and for bullying prevention.
Located in the center of a busy hallway at City Park hangs an original Unity Day wall display in which Jones had students from every grade level come and add something to it. The colorful display partnered with an inspiring message behind it is a great reminder of unification and kindness to all the students at City Park that walk by throughout the day.
"We just want to continue to encourage our students to grow in their academics but also in their social and emotional learning," Jones said.
Leading up to Unity Day, Jones sent out a memo about a poster contest idea to all of the homeroom teachers. This contest was between the homeroom classrooms at the school in which each class would create a poster featuring some aspect of Unity Day. Even the virtual homerooms were able to submit posters and participate in the competition.
After each of the poster ideas were thought up, created and placed in front of each classroom, three unbiased judges were brought in from across the district to decide on one winner for three different groups. There was a tie for first-place in the Kindergarten-2nd grade group, one winner from the 3rd-5th grade group, and one winner for the virtual group homerooms. The winning homeroom for each group won an in-class ice-cream day.
In October, the students at City Park have been learning about National Bullying Prevention Month in their guidance classes. Jones and Shelia McKeehan, another City Park school counselor, have been teaching some progressive lessons toward the prevention of bullying to the students throughout the course of this month.
"This day and this month fits perfectly with kindness as we teach the students about bullying, but we need to know the anecdotes to that," Jones said.
The hallways of City Park School are radiating with great positivity and optimism through creative expression as all of their posters promoting change are hung with hope for a better future. With this initiative, Jones hopes students will gain a sharpened understanding of what bullying looks like and how it can be stopped.
"Bullying is a topic that we need to teach," Jones said. "Coupling it with the positivity of preventing it and being kind, I think that is the way to go."