How one school started a chain reaction at other local schools

Thank you to Jason Appel and Andrea Correia, the Math Teachers and Chain Reaction Club Advisors from Barrington High School in Rhode Island, for submitting the below content and media for this recent event held at their school.  - Rachel's Challenge.

In preparation for this event, we visited each school in our district, three K-3 elementaries, a 4-5, our middle school, and of course our high school. We shared with them a promotional video that our club members produced, asked them to think about how they would celebrate A Day Without Hate, and invited them to the district-wide poster party. We also had 4,000 white bracelets made that say “A DAY WITHOUT HATE” (similar to the “START A CHAIN REACTION” bracelets) and gave them to the students and staff at each school.

On Thursday, March 22 we planned an advisory activity for the entire school. Each of 40 advisories were given paint and a 15’ x 3’ piece of butcher paper and were asked to make a Peace Poster. We also asked the art club to design a mural for us. We took their design and divided it up into 40 square pieces. Each advisory was tasked with painting their piece on a 1.5’ x 1.5’ piece of butcher paper. All 40 squares were then assembled after school to create a mural that we hung in the cafeteria.

That same evening, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM we invited every school in the district to a Peace Poster party in the high school cafeteria. Several hundred students, families and staff came together to paint posters which they either hung in the high school corridors or brought back to their schools to hang the next day. It was touching to see students ranging from first grade to seniors, plus parents, teachers and even principals show up and participate.

The next day, Friday, March 23 we celebrated DWOH at the high school. Students wore white and participated in passing period challenges during each 4 minute passing period throughout the day. Challenges like “high five as many people as you can”, or “say hey” to as many people as you can while music played over the PA system throughout the building were hugely popular. The most powerful moment of the day was when we asked students to remain silent as we, “remember those who have ever lost their lives through an act of hate or terror.” We weren’t sure how it would go, but we had nearly 100% participation for the entire 4 minutes. It was incredible.

We were totally blown away by the response. Every school shared stories of how the students responded to our presentation. It was truly a chain reaction of kindness. In one school, 3rd graders painted kindness rocks which they placed all over town. Another school gave every student a piece of paper and asked them to write something special about them. The papers were then posted in the halls for everyone to see. But my favorite story was a story from another 3rd grade classroom. “The kids were so inspired by the CR members and what they had to say that they wanted to do something in the same spirit. So, last week, every time someone witnessed an act of kindness in their classroom, the student who witnessed it got up in front of the class, described the act, and complimented the person who did it. Then together they added a link to a paper chain to symbolize CR (starting a spirit of togetherness that would hopefully spread). On DWOH the entire class presented the paper chain to the school as a symbol of the culture they want to perpetuate. The teacher said it was amazing to see the kids embrace the concept as they did, the entire culture of her classroom shifted, and she said it was 100% inspired from the BHS visit.”

If you would like to share your FOR Club project with Rachel’s Challenge, please contact Janet Stumbo at jstumbo@rachelschallenge.org.

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