When Marilyn Hissong, superintendent of East Allen County Schools, invited students and staff to participate in the Middle School Kindness Challenge, she didn't expect it would end with a celebration complete with glittering gold and silver confetti.
"I am just humbled by everything you have accomplished this year already," Hissong today told students from New Haven Middle School and Southwick Elementary School during an assembly honoring them as champion schools.
Each school received $1,000 in Donors Choose credit to be used toward purchasing materials to continue fostering kindness.
"You all are national leaders in kindness," said Daniel O'Donnell, director of the Middle School Kindness Challenge.
This was the district's first year participating in the challenge, which was created in response to bullying and intolerance, O'Donnell said. Schools nationwide have participated in the effort, he said, adding EACS is unique because it is the only district of its size to have all its eligible schools participate.
The district's participation exceeded Hissong's initial goal of having one grade level from each school participate. Once the effort began in the fall, participation in most schools grew building-wide, she said.
She shared an anecdote involving a student questioning why the activity is called the Middle School Kindness Challenge.
"'It's not a challenge to be kind,'" Hissong recalled the student saying.
"In all honesty," Hissong continued, "those words are very true. All I can say is, just be kind. It's easy, and it costs nothing but it pays so much to the people who receive your kindness."