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John Burroughs Middle School Participating in Great Kindness Challenge

John Burroughs Middle School is participating in the Great Kindness Challenge this week. (Photo Courtesy of Angela Knapp, JBMS)

Starting today, and through the end of the week, John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park will be participating in the Great Kindness Challenge. The Great Kindness Challenge is a national campaign devoted to encouraging students to perform as many acts of kindness as possible on campus.

Wearing t-shirts with kindness messages and banners this morning, Knapp and the supervision staff met the students arriving at school.

JBMS leadership team. (photo courtesy of Angela Knapp)

“We are trying to focus students on the positive aspects of being at school,” said Knapp. “We are working hard to increase attendance accross the district. We want kids to be at school every day as long as they are not sick. We do have some kids who are chronically absent and we want them to feel welcome so we are trying to generate lots of positivity this week.”

Angela Knapp, Instructional Coach (left) and Debbie Lee, Assistant Principal (Photo Courtesy of Angela Knapp, JBMS)

The Great Kindness Challenge is one week devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible on campus. Participating school students are guided with a checklist of 50 kind acts which they can track on their school iPads using the The Great Kindness Challenge app.  The check list, geared to various ages,  includes suggestions like smile at 25 people, make a new friend, give 5 people a compliment, etc.

At the kick off assembly on Friday, the students were introduced to the program byJohn Burroughs Middle School Assistant Principal Susan Armendariz.

JaIn Choe, Counselor (Photo Courtesy of Angela Knapp, JBMS)

“We pushed the app to the students iPads and they are already walking around, reading it and starting to use it,” Angela Knapp, Instruction Coach at JBMS told the Buzz today.

The JBMS staff has organized a number of other ways to keep kids focused on the challenge including a competition among home rooms with the home room doing the most acts of kindness getting a prize. There is a door decorating contest where students can illustrate the different ways to be kind to each other. The school counselors will have large posters on the doors so students can write down some of the ways they have been kind to each other. And, of course, lots of stickers will be given out to reward students and visually remind everyone to be kind explained Knapp who is coordinating the effort for the school.

At John Burroughs Middle School, the faculty and staff are using the challenge to continue to improve school climate, increase student engagement, increase student attendance, and prevent bullying, explained Susan Armendariz, John Burroughs Middle School Assistant Principal in a message to parents on the school’s website and Facebook page.

“We hope that our kindness challenge will resonate with students so that they continue to be kind to each other for the remainder of the school year,” wrote Armendariz. The school will be posting updates on their social media.

In 2017, over 10 million students pre-K through 12th grade participated the program in over 15,000 schools in 90 countries according to the Great Kindness Challenge website. The program started with 2011 with three schools in Carlsbad, California by the founders of Kids for Peace, Danielle Gram, a high school honors student and Jill McManigal, a mother and former elementary school teacher in 2006. The Great Kindness Challenge grew out of the desire of neighborhood kids wanting to make our world a better place, has grown into an interconnected network of young peacebuilders worldwide, according to their website.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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