Middle school students share kindness, gain new perspectives

Middle school students decorated rocks with inspirational and kind messages, as well as fun-loving and happy images. Courtesy photo

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Eighth grade students at Winters Middle School took time to spread positivity and inspiration through rock art to community members last month.

WMS educator Laurie Helm said students in her eight grade Social Emotional Learning class put thought and care into deciding what they wanted to do as a class project. Through a class vote, they chose to decorate rocks to share a smile with others and to help bring a smile to the faces of those who came upon one.

Nico Novello said the goal of the project was to spread kindness and inspiration with these rocks. Many of the students told the Express they wanted to bring happiness, positive and inspirational messages, and to help give residents a boost of encouragement.

Some students opted to make colorful images including shooting stars and lucky ladybugs.

Mia Borges decorated her rock with a ladybug and flower and the words, “To the little things” and on the back a message bidding good luck.

“I put this on my rock so that they could appreciate the little things (that) sometimes we don’t notice ourselves,” Borges said. “And the luck part so that maybe they will feel a little lucky that day.”

Borges said the effort was a way for her to say thank you to the folks who live in her area of town.

“In my neighborhood there is always someone who is willing to help with my family or someone who is there to listen to what I have to say,” Borges said. “And I just wanted to say thanks for everything and this was a way to show them.”

Other students chose to share messages of hope, kindness and encouragement. 

Kourtnei Hampton wants people to “Shoot for the stars” so they’ll reach their goals. Angel Ausencio wanted to share a motivating message to get people to take action.

“I chose, ‘Stop wishing, start doing’ because I really think it’s important to work on your goals or to work for something you want other than just standing around hoping and wishing somethings gonna happen,” Ausencio said.

Other students shared empathetic messages of encouragement. Sam Bryant wrote “You matter” to the person who finds it knows they matter. Leslie Torres said she wrote “Be yourself” because she felt many people feel like they have to change who they are because of what they hear others saying. Izabella Bermudez said she chose “Nothing is perfect” to help remind people that they don’t have to be perfect.

Helm said after a week or so of decorating, students walked through the neighborhood just south and west of the middle school and left rocks at different houses. 

“Many were random. Some students took even more rocks home to their own neighborhoods,” Helm said. “My students are amazing.”

Many of the students said they gained new insight and perspectives on life after working on the rock art project.

Novello said he’s now more thoughtful and hopes to be more empathetic. Cheyenne Williams said the experience helped her learn that sometimes the littlest bit of kindness can go a long way. Elena Ortiz said working on the rocks made her feel good because she was doing something that could put a smile on someone’s face. 

Borges said the experience gave her an opportunity to talk to classmates she normally would not have talked to and she was able to make some more friends. She also found something special in doing something for her community.

“One insight I gained was I was able to take a moment of my time to put work into something for my community,” Borges said. “I feel like Winters is my home and I, for once, got to do something to give back.”

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