Boothbay Region Elementary School students shone brightly on the eve of Solstice, the first day of winter and the year's shortest day and longest night. BRES dedicates December to kindness through students’ actions and words, catalogued by teachers and staff with spirit cards. The cards take form on the school's walls as candles, each a single beacon of light representing the good in the school and community.
The effort culminated in two all-school assemblies Dec. 20. One featured Vermont-based performer Barry Lane; the other,the grades' performances and Assistant Principal Tricia Campbell's reading of “The Invisible Boy.”
“How many kids did it take to help Brian begin to feel visible," Campbell asked after the story.
“One,” shouted out several students.
Campbell asked students what they might do if they noticed a student in their class being left out.
“Include them,” one student said.
“Be nice to them,” said another.
“That's right – one act of kindness, one person reaching out. It is this work that we are doing, that we are talking about which we celebrate,” said Campbell.
Through song, dance and a little bit of “magic,” Lane helped show the importance of being kind to one another and that, like almost anything, kindness takes practice.
“This is like basketball,” said Lane. “If you practice it, you get better at it.”
Lane called upon 10 students and teachers to make a circle to test his theory of “force-field-o-matic energy,” that through a person to person connection, a circuit could be made and kindness can flow through everyone.
“I am part of the force-field for good. I will practice kindness each day,” students said after Lane read a card each student would be receiving.
Lane introduced a cell of sorts held at each end by two different people. When complete, the widget set off a strobe and whirring noises from within, proving Lane’s theory of kindness and connection. Expanding the circle to include the entire room, Lane was doubtful the connection could be maintained. But widget lit up again.
Lane offered advice for a bad day or when feeling down: “You can do what Taylor Swift does," said Lane, playing Swift's "Shake it Off."
Shy at first, students flocked to the floor to dance after Campbell initiated the dance-off inside the school-wide circle.
BRES Principal Mark Tess shared that one of his favorite experiences in life is being able to empathize with others and show them comfort in knowing someone else cares.
Said Tess, "Someday when somebody famous is writing your life story, nobody's going to care how many points you scored in a basketball game, nobody's going to care how much money you made, but what they are going to judge you by are things like were you able to treat others kindly, with dignity, with respect. Were you understanding and unselfish? Did you show generosity and good will toward other people. Those are the things that you are going to be remembered for ... I am proud of each and every one of you students and every adult in this building."