On February 24th, Clearspring Middle School focused on kindness. It was Pink Shirt day across the country, and our school participated. I hesitate to say we celebrated Pink Shirt day, because the goal of the day is to draw attention to how we mistreat one another, and to take action(s) to create a culture that is deeply rooted in kindness. Our students chose to focus on three mistreatments: gossip, name calling, and exclusion. Each student was given a strip of pink cloth on which to write one of the mistreatments, AND their plan for how to address that problem. They then tied that strip of cloth to their arm, ankle, or around their head to proclaim their commitment. In class, students were encouraged to consider strategies for kindness, and then use a pink stamp to complete their class Pinko (bingo) card whenever they used those strategies. This day was planned and brought into being in our school by our Safe School Allies and a few teachers who supported them in getting this work done.
Will it work? Will our school become a kinder place as a result of a day like this? Growth is a slow process. I love the saying, “The best time plant a tree was fifty years ago; the second best time to plant a tree is today.” The vast majority of our students make kindness a daily practice, a way of life. We hope a day like Pink Shirt day strengthens their resolve. For those who need to begin to make change, we hope Pink Shirt can be the day that the seed of a life of kindness was planted. I think it will work – it will work to encourage students to continue on a path of kindness, and also to consider how all of us can be kinder to one another. We planted a few trees on Pink Shirt day!