Students Spreading Smiles

Originally published on The Magnet by Megan Jacques

The 2019-2020 school year is one month in, and the school is seeing a rise in positivity.

Students have already taken steps to help each other have a great school year where everyone can feel appreciated.

It began on the first day of school when a mystery writer began putting up inspirational and uplifting messages on the whiteboard next to Ms. Tomkiel’s room in the Computer lab. These messages, sometimes as simple as “Happy Monday,” have been a daily occurrence and serve to help lift everyone’s spirits.

When asked what inspired them to write the messages on the board, the mystery writer said that, “Well I’ve always thought that ever since I was younger, that my parents used to teach me that positivity was the answer for a lot of things. And that even if positivity couldn’t fix something, necessarily, it could at least help you on your way to fix it.”

This mystery writer, who wished to remain anonymous, hinted at more random acts of kindness to come. They said, “there are new people getting involved, and hopefully some exciting things that are coming up on the school, we will see more of an impact.”

The mystery writer also added that they “definitely hope that students see the messages and don’t see them as something sarcastic, or even other peoples’ positivity, that they take them as genuine acts of kindness and something that people can look at as a real thing, not something that would be just done because someone thought about it one day, just like a reminder.”

Along with the mystery writer, there have been three other students who have been spreading positivity in their own way. Seventh-grader Brooklyn Moore and eighth-grader Emily Parnicky, along with sophomore Angelika Osowiecki, organized and ran an inspirational quote day for the middle school.

After school one day, these students decided that they would write notes to put in their friends and classmates’ lockers to not only boost positivity but also cure their boredom.

Although they did not see a huge impact within the Middle School, Parnicky hopes that the school would embrace the fact that “it shows that you can do something, it can be a random act of kindness.”

These students hope that the school will continue to work to spread positivity which can be anything as simple as a smile. Moore said, “Especially when the high schoolers smile at me because I am just a little seventh grader, it makes my day.”

Head of the Middle School Tara Robinson said that “middle school has historically been a time thought of negative angst emotion roller coasters. It is really easy for kids to feel down because it is such an overwhelming time. And positive emotion at this time won’t be the default.”

In regards to Upper School involvement, Robinson added, “If we make them [The Middle Schoolers] stronger it will permeate to the rest of the MacDuffie community.”

These little reminders can not only raise positivity around the school in general but also help mental health overall.

School Counselor Deanne Klingensmith has been working at the school for seven years and has encountered many different aspects of mental health.

Klingensmith described what she does at the school saying, “I am available for any students to come to talk to me about various issues. It can be anything from serious home issues to past events to my boyfriend broke up with me to I’m stressed out over a test. Unfortunately, there are some kids who have suicidal ideation. Such a various array of different issues that kids will come in to talk to me about.”

When asked about how the spread of positivity impacts mental health, Klingensmith said, “positive reinforcement is a huge factor in changing behavior, changing thoughts. Even if something as simple as walking in the hallway and you see a friend and you say “Hey! How are you?” and give them a positive smile, it makes you feel better.”

A random act of kindness does not have to be a big project with lots of planning. Simply saying hello to someone and smiling at them in the hallway or holding open a door are ways that you can spread kindness and positivity.

Positivity is spreading around the school, but it cannot continue to foster without the small acts of kindness from everyone.

In the words of our mystery writer, Osoweicki, Parnicky and Moore, “Continue spreading positivity!”

If you need to talk to someone, do not hesitate to contact Mrs. Klingensmith. Her office is open for walk-ins or you can contact her at the email below.

dklingensmith@macduffie.org

For alternative resources or more immediate help,  do not hesitate to contact one of the hotlines below.

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Other resources: https://www.pleaselive.org/hotlines/