Richardson ISD students have declared today “Kindness Day,” and they are encouraging friends – and inviting the entire community – to practice “radical inclusiveness” as we deal with friends, coworkers and even complete strangers. Kindness Day was the brainchild of RISD’s Super SAC (Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council), and they created a Youtube video designed to be watched by students on computers and personal handheld devices and shared with friends and classmates.
You can view it above or see it here.
“Super SAC meets with me and my senior staff monthly to discuss various initiatives,” says Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone. “It’s a great opportunity for us to hear ‘the student’s voice’ and see things through their eyes. They provide us with great insight.” This year members have given input on ways to improve RISD’s counseling services, technology roll-out and discipline topics, among other issues.
“It’s imperative to listen to our students, and without exception, their input has made a difference and informed our work.”
Three students from each RISD high school are selected by school administration, teachers and previous Super SAC members based on community involvement, leadership, merit and academic performance, and this year’s Lake Highlands High School reps are Arthur Anderson, Chloe Bidne and Amanda Blettner. The new group each year is tasked with creating a “legacy project.”
“We all knew by our first meeting we shared a common passion for kindness,” says Bidne, who’ll attend Belmont University in Nashville in the fall to study entrepreneurship. “Some of us have experienced bullying, some of us have witnessed the increase in the ease of being unkind via social media, and we all feel strongly that there needs to be a shift in the culture of RISD regarding the way we treat others.”
“Radical inclusivity goes above and beyond a one-time event in which you might learn someone’s name or hold a temporary conversation,” says Blettner, headed to Texas A&M to study veterinary medicine after graduation. “It’s about changing the culture of our community for years to come. One of the most powerful tools we have to accomplish this is language, and at Lake Highlands, you can easily hear a multitude of different languages just by walking down the hallway and being aware of those around you. One of my teachers would always say that, ‘Lake Highlands is one of the greatest melting pots you’ll ever experience. If you were to walk into that hall right now and not encounter someone who grew up with a different culture from your own, than you’ve purposefully created your own bubble.’ As members of Super SAC, we represent the entirety of the student body, and by incorporating so many languages in our video, we hope to reach out to those who might find themselves on the perimeter. By speaking the word ‘kindness’ in a diverse number of languages, we hope to convey not a metaphorical but a very realistic message – that we include and advocate for all voices in RISD.”
Luckily, says Anderson, despite hailing from the four corners of RISD and from a variety of backgrounds, members were in agreement on the issue they wanted for their “legacy.”
“The entire committee agreed that we wanted to see more kindness and brotherly love around each of the high schools. We all hated physical contact in the halls, rude or indecent behavior and just negative attitudes surrounding the high school. So we all agreed that our goal was to implant kindness in the RISD culture. We wanted to prick the hearts of all RISD students.”
Anderson will play football for Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas in the fall.
City of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and City of Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker officially proclaimed February 24th Kindness Day in the two cities, and Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough made a presentation to Super SAC members at the school board meeting in February. He was at Lake Highlands High School yesterday to congratulate students on the initiative.
“My favorite thing about Super SAC is the opportunity to create actual change,” says Bidne. “I’m honored that RISD has created such a unique platform for students to express what we believe could make our community and learning experiences better. They truly value what we have to say and foster our ideas. I’ve learned how important it really is to speak up when you believe in something.”
In addition to release of the video, LHHS will have drawings to win iPads, Steel City Pops and other fun prizes, they’ll have “community greeters” in the hallways distributing Hershey’s kisses, they’ll host a “best handshake” contest with the winner earning a pizza party, they’ll host a Club Fair and they’ll encourage “positive affirmations” of all kinds.
Bletter says she believes the initiative will have a lasting impact.
“This day transcends just the high school level. It will be celebrated at every single campus in RISD, elementary and junior high included. We would love for students to share and discuss the video to spread awareness about Kindness Day. We want the students to run with it and to uphold this atmosphere, even after Kindness Day is over.”
“The students wanted to make this day ‘so huge’ that it would have an impact and that the message would be remembered,” says Stone. “They hope that this will start a movement on which others will build, and that this day will be talked about for years to come. They also speak about wanting our district to be one of ‘radical inclusiveness’ where everyone is kind to each other – every day.”