For the third year, this January Shore participated in the Great Kindness Challenge, a worldwide week devoted to nurturing a culture of compassion, acceptance, unity, and respect in schools.
Fifth graders led the way for Shore in this year's challenge, creating kindness-themed games for Lower School classrooms, hanging a banner to highlight kind notes, and devising an all-school project to dream up new words signifying kindness. Some of these imaginative neologisms included albeteto—a noun defined as "a look of unspoken respect shared between two people"—and bumblesnazz—a verb that means "to put a smile on someone's face."
Around the world, over 10 million students in 15,000 schools across 90 countries participated in the Great Kindness Challenge. According to Jill McManigal, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Kids For Peace—the nonprofit that created the Great Kindness Challenge—the global event is "a proactive and positive initiative that improves school climate and increases student engagement."
At Shore, kindness is not just a once-a-year initiative: it is the first value in our Community Code. Each week, at morning meetings, in House gatherings, and through classroom activities, students from Pre-K through Grade 9 make the pledge, "As a member of the Shore community, I will be kind. I will be caring and thoughtful of others in my words and actions."
Said Dean of Students Sean Melia during the Great Kindness Challenge, "While we had some events and small activities to get us thinking about kindness this week, it is something that should seep into our everyday way of thinking." Melia cited a third-grader's discovery of the word "kindlet," a small act of kindness. "Kindlets are a perfect way to make someone smile and feel good," he said. "It might even make their whole day. A kindlet can grow into something even bigger."
Holding the door, for example: this small, kind act made numerous appearances on the Post-It notes affixed to the fifth grade's kindness banner. But holding the door, for a single student or an entire class, is more than just a "random act." It is ingrained in Shore's culture—one of the many ways our community demonstrates that kindness here is not exceptional, but exceptionally common.