Secret spies were briefed and commissioned for a special mission in the Zachary community. They are highly trained, equipped and disguised as kindergartners, but don’t underestimate them. They will find their targeted assets and bring effective kindness to their lives. Mission (to be) accomplished.
Parents of the 387 Northwestern Elementary School kindergartners were asked to send their children to school on Nov. 18 dressed in black as part of a surprise assembly. At the start of the Super Secret Kindness Kickoff, all the students were given sunshades to complete their super spy attire.
Librarian Rebecca Gerdes seemed puzzled and addressed the full assembly: “What is going on, why are you all dressed like spies?”
Laurie Condon, the school’s instructional support specialist, ran out with the big announcement: “The CIA has contracted NES to be super-secret kindness spies for the week.” Kindness was defined and detailed for the students who were told their mission for the week was to look for opportunities to be kind and bring acts of kindness to their class, school, home and community.
What can one little kindergartner do? The “power of team” was demonstrated by the creation of a Human Chain of Kindness. Using an experiment kit from the tech startup Makey Makey, an electrical chain originating from a computer’s USB port was passed through the nearly 400 students who were holding hands to create a chain.
The students were then able to see what they could do working in a team. As the Pharrell Williams song "Happy" blared over the speakers, the nearly 400 students danced and celebrated the start of their mission.
The assembly ended, but the mission was brought to each classroom. Teacher Lindsey Warner explained to her class that each day of the week, students would choose a kindness mission and do all they could to carry out the top-secret mission and complete it at the end of each day.
“You can earn up to 10 badges for the week,” she said. “But the entire class has to work together to get the badge.”
Warner’s class set goals to earn the Compliment Badge, Smile Badge, Sharing Badge, Manners Badge, Helper Badge, Card Badge, Encouragement Badge, Picture Badge, Tidy Badge and the Overall Kindness Badge. Each class will have a poster on display in the hallway that holds their earned badges.
Each class has a You’ve been Booked bag of secret spy tools to help them complete their mission. The bag contains a book for each day and the badges that the students will earn.
The books all have a kindness theme. The first book, "Super Buns," is about a rabbit who has the super power of showing kindness.
Condon said the week of events at Northwestern Elementary was inspired by National Kindness Day on Nov. 13. “We wanted to do something that inspired not just the kids, but our teachers, too, the week before Thanksgiving,” she said.
A steering committee of teachers planned the week’s events. The members are Condon, Gerdes, Warner, Elizabeth Day, Erin Curry, and Torie Kazusky. “We came up with this idea because it was international Kindness Day, and we decided to bring a week of kindness to our little school,” Gerdes said.
Gerdes said she thought it would be neat to make the human circuit with the Makey Makey computer, and she contacted Tom Heck, an education liaison with Makey Makey.
The Makey Makey group provides invention kits that turn everyday objects into touchpads connected with the internet. The invention kit can be used for beginners and experts to attempt art, music and science experiments.
The Northwester kindergartens created a USB-based simple circuit that looped through the nearly 400 children and powered a single device. Gerdes said Heck said Makey Makey has never attempted a human circuit with more than 150 people, but he thought 400 would work. “So, we didn’t try it out beforehand, we just hoped and prayed that it would work,” said Gerdes who admitting having a nightmare about the experiment the previous night. “We wanted to do a school wide event that would bring our school together and what better thing than kindness.”
The kindness theme was emphasized with books that speak to and encouraged kindness to children. Gerdes said as the kindness concepts grow, they will help young students begin to understand and address more difficult issues like bullying and negative behaviors.
“Each teacher came back to their classroom with a You’ve Been Booked Kindle Kindness Edition and, in those books, bullying may not be brought up by name, but it talks about how you are nice to others, and we are starting this young,” Gerdes said. “It will transfer up from being kind.”