Students at Columbiana Middle School are learning that “Kindness is the New Cool,” as part of a school-wide effort to promote kindness among the students, faculty, and staff. The initiative has been ongoing since the start of school but was celebrated on October 22 with a school-wide Kindness Rally.
Dr. Andrea Childress, assistant principal at CMS, said the school devised the idea as a way to decrease office referrals for behavior that was the result of students being unkind to one another.
“Our SRO, Sergeant Sasha Lilly Knighten, has been instrumental in making this a community-wide endeavor with participation in conjunction with Shelby County High School,” Dr. Childress said. “Our aim is to teach the behaviors we desire, so why not start with the golden rule!”
Dr. Kerry Rush, principal at CMS said that while the initiative has been spearheaded by a few, it has been embraced by all.
“The saturation of the kindness effort, prior to the rally, was extensive and included the sponsorship of a new CMS student group SWAT (Student-led Wildcat Action Team), a partnership with Shelby County High School’s Peer Helpers, multiple kindness-themed bulletin boards, mass locker messages, and financial donations,” said Dr. Rush.
Guests speakers for the Kindness Rally included UAB defensive lineman, Zach Williams, Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Lewis Brooks, and WBRC Fox 6 reporter, Jeh Jeh Pruitt. Each presented multiple personal stories on the importance of being kind to others and the reward that often occurs when paying kindness forward. Also in attendance were Columbiana Mayor Stancil Handley and Representative Corley Ellis.
The rally was further enhanced by a video entitled “My Truth” which shared real-life instances of CMS and SCHS students and staff who have experienced challenges and hardships but have persevered because of the kindness of others.