An annual celebration of diversity and unity at Mohonasen High School took on new meaning this week as students chose HUGS Day to announce a 17-day remembrance of the victims of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Beginning Friday, March 16, students, faculty and staff will engage in 17 days of “Deliberate Acts of Kindness” to encourage everyday, meaningful gestures within the school: one day for each victim in Parkland.
HUGS Day (which stands for Harmony & Understanding through Giving and Sharing) took place on March 15 and is in its fifteenth year at MHS. This year, it was co-sponsored by Peers for Peace and the school’s new No Place for Hate club. With the help of Student Assistance Counselor Diane Blinn, the groups handed out the foil-wrapped, swirled spin-off of Hershey’s Kisses known as Hugs as a way to spread a message of “unity through diversity” among the student body. Members of the school community were treated to two Hugs candies and encouraged to enjoy one and “pay it forward” with the second.
“The No Place for Hate Committee believes that ‘the world is built on kindness’ and that to truly create social change, kindness must be balanced, considered and intentional,” said Blinn. “We hope that by honoring the 17 victims of Parkland with 17 days of Deliberate Acts of Kindness, we make Kindness an intentional habit for all.”
Blinn said the idea to extend acts of kindness to 17 days was one generated by students after their March 14 Speak Out. The students are hoping the days will be used to help the school community be more accepting, more respectful, more understanding and more caring towards one another.
Approximately 75 students at the high school got things started on HUGS Day by choosing to put kindness down on paper. Students in Ms. Colleen Guse’s classes were asked to write letters of thanks to a service member, or to a teacher, family member or friend who they appreciate, but maybe haven’t talked to in a long time or whose friendship may have slipped away.
“I received one of the letters this afternoon. It was from a student I just met a few weeks ago who said she really appreciated me,” said teacher Katie Bartone. “Receiving that meant a lot to me, it actually made me cry.”
17 days of Deliberate Acts of Kindness at MHS
- Compliment Day
- Push in Your Chair Day
- Teacher/Principal Appreciation Day
- Open the Door for Somebody Else Day
- Make a Wave Day (wave at a new person)
- Help Out a Friend Day
- Lend Your Pen/Pencil Day
- Custodial Staff Appreciation Day
- Sit with Someone New Day
- Lunch Staff Appreciation Day
- Laugh Day (make somebody laugh)
- Pay it Forward Day
- Bestie Day (tell your best friend what you like about them)
- Parent Appreciation Day
- Respect Day
- Secret Admirer Day
- Kindness Day
“They say it takes 30 days to make something a habit,” said Diane Blinn. “We’re hoping it will take 17.”