Glendale High School's Chain of Kindness was taken down just before the Christmas break, but organizers hope the theme of kindness continues throughout the school year.
The paper chain was inspired by a Nov. 4th assembly presented by Todd Lauderdale from Rachel's Challenge, an organization which combats bullying and promotes kindness and compassion. Rachel's Challenge programs are based on the writings and life of 17-year-old Rachel Scott who was the first student killed in the 1999 Columbine, Colorado school shooting.
After the assembly many of the Grade 9-12 students signed a special banner accepting Rachel's Challenge. Students in the Glendale's Social Justice Club took it one step further organizing a school-wide 'chain reaction' of kindness, similar to examples shown in Lauderdale's one-hour presentation.
"We've got to reach out," said GHS guidance counselor Betty Caley. "The whole point of this exercise was to say let's do something to make it a positive. Yes, it's sad that this happened to this young lady, but let's make a positive out of it.
"We did the Chain of Kindness during our anti-bullying week," said Caley, noting the school also had its Sea of Pink Day (Nov. 21) during the province-wide Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. "It's the idea of being kind to everybody."
A slip of pink paper was distributed by the Social Justice Club to approximately 800 Glendale students during their first period classes. Each student wrote one thing they could do to be kind during that week, or in general. The paper 'links' were collected and stapled together by the Social Justice Club to form the Chain of Kindness, which was displayed in the halls until Dec. 18.
"One of the classes linked theirs and handed it in that way," said Caley, unsure of the finished chain's exact length.
Pam Demaree's Leadership class, a mixture of Grade 11 and 12 students, created wall posters identifying the main points of Rachel's Challenge.
"They're the challenges that Rachel gave to people," said Caley. "Choose Positive Influences, Dream Big, Eliminate Prejudice, Choose Kindness and Start Your Own Chain Reaction. She (Demaree) really stresses a lot of these ideas in her Leadership class.
"They are all healthy things for kids to do... and it's an idea that we can build on – we start with that, then somebody will come up with another idea and we keep building on those things. We need to do more stuff to feel positive."