In a time when the contagious coronavirus has spread and caused anxiety and stress among many, Allendale Christian School, a CSI accredited school, has instead chosen to focus on the contagious nature of kindness.
After Allendale Christian School’s fifth grade students read the book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, they were inspired after learning how to choose kindness from the characters in the book and began to think about how they could spread kindness to others. The initiative began small with fifth graders writing notes to their school community, from the custodians and hot lunch workers to the staff and board members. Fifth Grade Teachers, John Vanden Berg and Jessica Kirchhoff, saw the appreciation and joy from their school community that they decided to take it to the next step, which launched their Choose Kind --> Spread Kind Initiative.
“Our goal with the Choose Kind --> Spread Kind Initiative was to send notes of encouragement to our school leaders/helpers, local leaders, state leaders, and then federal leaders,” a letter from an Allendale Christian school teacher explained. “The response has been great. We also sent letters off to 50 different Christian schools through Christian Schools International’s website that were in as many different states as possible. We then asked those fifth graders to do the same with spreading kindness.”
Allendale Christian School’s fifth grade students started by writing 2–3 letters each to 50+ local organizations and churches, explaining the reason they were spreading kindness and answering what the initiative is, why they’re doing it, and how it has made them feel—which to some, it’s been very powerful. The list of local organizations that received the letters are biblically based, including nursing homes, homeless shelters, community outreaches, orphanages, adoption center, pregnancy care centers, local restaurants, organizations that fight hunger and help other local kids, and more. Students were also tasked with looking up addresses and organizations, writing addresses on envelopes, and mailing the letters.
The kindness has been contagious. The responses these fifth grade students have received has been overwhelming, and any responses they’ve received have been posted to a kindness wall in their classroom, organized by local, church, school, organization, state, and national response. They even received an encouraging note from Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer!
If you are a CSI member school, you may have received a letter from Allendale Christian School’s fifth grade students and teachers and been blessed by their words of encouragement. If you received a letter or even if your school didn’t, let these fifth grade students’ example of kindness be one that you might consider having your students model and spread to others in your school community and beyond.
This board of kindness is prepped and ready to receive more responses about how kindness has spread. Many of the recipients that responded sent letters back to Allendale, expressing their gratitude and telling how they had spread their kindness. Some of them bought a coffee for someone behind them in line, others shared our letters with their board members to let them know someone cares, and some of them were extra kind to those around them. Kindness is contagious!
Fifth grade students wrote letters to the Architect of the Capitol, who is responsible for keeping the Capitol in Washington DC in tip-top shape. After the January 6, 2021 riots, students wrote to the clean-up crew that was tasked with fixing, repairing, and cleaning the mess left behind so our nation could get back to work.
Student Lea Matz searches on Christian Schools International’s website for addresses to send initiative letters to Christian schools in the US.
Allendale Christian School Fifth Grade Teachers Miss Jessica Kirchhoff and Mr. John Vanden Berg stand in front of the responses they have received so far this year. They have high hopes that it will increase as the year progresses.