PLAINFIELD — Throughout the month of January, teachers at Van Buren Elementary School kept track of their students’ acts of kindness, and this past Wednesday, six students were able to “shave away the bullying” on some of their teachers.
The school has been focusing on bullying awareness as a part of its Character Development Program. Students have been tracking “acts of kindness,” competing to be the class with the highest number.
The school was doing a program based on a book about bucket-filling for the acts of kindness or bucket-dipping for those not-so-kind activities.
“Since we came back from Christmas break, each classroom teacher has been tallying the total number of acts of kindness they witness and they subtract the total acts that are not kind,” Principal Ray Helmuth said. “At the end of the day, the balance is added to the ongoing tally. The whole school participated. We try to do a theme every six weeks or so, and are always focusing on something to do with kindness or generosity.”
The grades competed against each other — kindergarten vs. first, second grade vs. third, and fourth grade vs. fifth. There were three winning classes who had the most kindness points: Melissa Bennett’s first-grade class, Teri Walters’ fourth-grade class and Susan Nolan’s second-grade class.
The teachers of those classes then chose one boy and one girl to help shave the beards of two teachers and the principal.
Third-grade teacher Brady Edwards was shaved by Bennett’s class, Principal Ray Helmuth was shaved by Walters’ class, and art teacher Byron Appleget was shaved by Nolan’s class. Two local barbers were on hand to assist the students.
Leland Wade of Leland’s Barbershop in Plainfield and Cody Potter were the two barbers that came to “shave away the bullying.”
“My little brother goes to school here, I went to school here, I think this is a great idea,” Potter said. “The principal got a hold of me, knowing I’m a barber, and I thought it’d be a lot easier if I had someone doing it with me, so I asked Leland if he wanted to come and help.”
Wade added, “We both graduated from Plainfield and went to barber school together. All of the kids are pretty excited about it. I think it’s nice to get the younger kids excited about something other than just school work.”
Students from Walters’ class explained the different kinds of kind acts they were recognized for.
“If people are alone, you can give them conversation and encourage them,” one student said. “If someone doesn’t have a partner, you be their partner.”
The students also helped their teacher distribute papers and do things around the classroom, helped other students who were having trouble with school work, and said they also take their kindness home with them.
“I want them to be aware that there are people doing nice things for others all the time,” Walters said.
One student added that she wants to make other people feel good, and maybe they will want to make others feel good too.
“It (kindness) can travel to different classes and maybe different schools,” she said.