High School Students Reach Out in Response to 9/11

Megan R.

Staff Writer

As 9/11 approached, a blanket of mourning and patriotism filled the American people. The community surrounding Ground Zero responded to this tragic holiday with a different spirit. The family, friends and neighbors of those who sacrificed themselves on that horrific day unified in kindness, instead of grief. Acknowledging the value of each and every moment of a life, New Yorkers chose to spend that day helping others. Inspired by this selfless act, Mrs. Pati Olton and Mrs. Leslie Hicks, media specialists, encouraged the same response from students of Woodstock High School through Random Act of Kindness Week. Mrs. Olton believes that this is a way to connect the students to their community. “Everyone’s story is intertwined. If people realized how much they had in common with others, maybe people would not feel so lonely.” From cafeteria workers and local police, to students at the school, there was an activity scheduled each day to acknowledge and thank those who may sometimes feel invisible.

On Monday, September 9, Random Acts of Kindness week officially began at Woodstock High School.  To kick off this week, Chick-fil-a was invited to share the “every person has a story” incentive that has become prevalent in their restaurants. This idea encourages their employees to pay attention to customers and acknowledge that “every person has a story” by being kind and making people feel valuable. However, this awareness can be applied in any situation and is a wonderful mindset to assume in light of Random Acts of Kindness week. Students who visited the media center on Monday were given several Chick-fil-a coupons to hand out around school. This gave students a good place to start their week!

Tuesday was “Say Hello to a Custodian Day.” An orange banner was signed by students to thank the custodians for all they do to help the school. From cleaning bathrooms to scrubbing floors, custodians work hard every day to keep the students of Woodstock High School safe and healthy. “Plato said to be kind because everyone is fighting their own battle; I think that says it all!” asserts Kendra Harris, junior. There was also a station near the front of the media center to make a kindness kit. This kit was a Chinese take-out box that could be decorated with ribbons, stickers, etc. and then filled with candy, friendship bracelets or just sweet notes. The kindness kit could be given to anybody: a stranger in the halls or a friend having a rough day. A literary showcase, displaying topics from the holocaust and civil rights to bullying and tolerance, was the centerpiece of the Learning Commons throughout the week.

On Wednesday Donna Lowry from 11alive News spoke to students about the Random Acts of Kindness contest that 11Alive is currently sponsoring. Each weekday 11Alive surprises a deserving person, nominated by the community, with a Random Act of Kindness. Lowry also invited students to assist in Make a Difference day on October 26th. 11Alive News joins with Hands on Atlanta, as well as any willing volunteers in Georgia, on this day every year to perform eleven acts of service around the Atlanta area. “It’s really cool that the stuff the library is doing got the attention of 11Alive news,” said Zach Rosinko, freshman. After Lowry spoke, she presented the Learning Commons with a random act of kindness in the form of a $100 gift card to promote future activities like this at Woodstock High School.

In addition to the guest speaker, students performed their own random acts of kindness on Wednesday.  Goodie bags for local police and firemen were assembled by students in honor of those who fought on September 11th, 2001. These bags were filled with candy donated by the BETA club and, of course, words of kindness! Since the firemen have to stay at the station for extended periods of time, they received travel-size toiletries as well. Donna Lowry covered the assembly of the goodie bags and helped put some together too!

Many acts of kindness, though by no means all, are sparked by appreciation. Therefore, Thursday was dedicated to celebrating the secretaries, without whom the school would be chaos. Like the custodians and cafeteria workers, the secretaries also received a banner of appreciation. When asked about this gesture, the secretaries in the front office were grateful. This was the final day of Random Act of Kindness week. “I thought this week was great; it is definitely a step in the right direction,” declares Emily Nevitt, junior. Friday morning the banners of kindness for students were hung around the school.

Though 9/11 was a horrific tragedy, it brought people from every edge of the U.S together. Even twelve years later, the country is growing stronger; moved by the tragedy, Americans congregate, in New York City or in spirit, to spread love at this time every year. It does not require a grand gesture to change someone’s day. Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Here is the challenge: to carry out one act of kindness, big or small, every week. No one knows how much common courtesy can mean, whether it is doing the dishes without being asked, saying thank you to a staff member, or just sharing a smile.

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