WATSONVILLE — Holding open a door, picking up litter, loaning a pencil — any of these small deeds can be seen as an act of kindness.
It is this character-building that teachers are hoping to instill in summer school students at EA Hall Middle School.
Students in the summer program have been tasked with the “19 Days of Kindness Challenge.” Not only do the teachers recognize students for their kind actions, but students are encouraged to recognize other students for their positive behaviors.
They earn “Kindness Challenge” slips, where they will be entered into a raffle for prizes such as movie tickets.
Quoting a line from Martin Luther King Jr. — “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education” — EA Hall Summer School Principal Brittany Birchall said the goal is to build students’ social and emotional well-being.
Such character-building is often lost in the fast-pace world of academics where teaching science and mathematics often take priority, she said.
“Students need character education,” she said. “I want students to have the opportunity to develop these life skills, communication and learning how their kindness can impact one another by learning to lift others up.”
On Friday, Bryan Stow brought his message of anti-bullying as the school kicked off its seven-day challenge known as “Mission Possible.”
“Mission Possible” encourages students to perform seven random acts of kindness in and outside of the classroom, such as doing chores or setting up the dinner table without being asked.
Stow, who was beaten by two men after a baseball game that left him in a coma for nine months, described his experience and urged the students to stand up to bullies.
“We are gathered here today to stop bullies in their tracks before they hurt other people,” he said.
Birchall, who also organized the “19 Days of Kindness Challenge” at Cesar Chavez Middle School during summer in 2016, said she hoped the initiative will teach students how positive actions can make the world a better place.
“I am hoping that the impact of the Bryan Stow Assembly will leave students feeling empowered to do what is right, as well as to realize the impact we can have on our community if we have courage and live with compassion for mankind,” Birchall said.