Berthoud Elementary students add heart to Kindness Tree

 

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

When Berthoud Elementary School students walk into the cafeteria this month they encounter hundreds of acts of kindness.

The student council put up a Kindness Tree with red, pink and white hearts, fitting for Valentine’s Day, that give ideas for ways of being kind to others. The hearts, which the students traced and cut out and are the size of a Sticky Note, serve as the leaves of the tree.

“It’s big and bright, and it grabs your attention,” said Ami Storle, third-grade teacher and student council cosponsor with Amber Tollock, first-grade teacher. “It’s right there when kids walk in the cafeteria at lunchtime. It’s very noticeable.”

Storle and Tollock wanted a project that would give the student body an opportunity to do something for the school, and learned about the idea of the Kindness Tree, Tollock said.

The student council, which meets one morning a month, made the hearts during the January meeting and delivered them to the school library. The library staff set up the hearts on a table and invited students during the weekly library special, when they come to the library as a class, to fill them out. That way, the distribution of the hearts would not interrupt class time, Storle said.

The student council invited students to write an actual act of kindness they’ve done, or an idea for something to do. The students provided ideas on nearly 300 of the more than 400 hearts the student council provided for each student in the school. The ideas include complimenting something a student is wearing, inviting a student who is alone at recess to play, and helping each other with class work.

“It’s a nice reminder to them of ways to treat each other, of respecting each other, and how important it is and how it makes you feel when you’re respected,” Storle said.

The student council put together the Kindness Tree on the morning of Feb. 6, attaching the tree to a bulletin board, and will keep the tree up for a month. The tree has the words, “Acts of kindness make me bloom,” as encouragement.

“The students were super excited about it,” Storle said. “They like finding their heart on the tree and finding their own act of kindness on there.”

The student council is working on another project this month and is interviewing students to identify what they would like to see at the school and any recommendations they have for changes. In March the student council will review the results to decide on next steps.

“It’s the students’ school; it’s not our school,” Storle said. “It’s giving them a voice and giving them an opportunity to let us know what their needs are. … It gives them pride in their school.”

The student council consists of 20 students in grades three through five, selected for the club by their teachers or peers based on their leadership skills. There are two representatives per class.

“It’s just giving them an opportunity to learn leadership skills, teamwork skills, and they’re representing their school, either through service or community projects,” Storle said. “They’re being the voice for their peers.”

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