By Brianna Deasy and Rachel Stanton
Over the last three years, Johnson Middle School (JMS) and Bird Middle School (BMS) in Walpole have created core values to guide their school cultures.
“More than just words, we believe our core values give us something to strive towards by taking risks and working hard to become scholars and explorers,” Johnson Middle School Principal William Hahn said on the JMS landing page. “We know at JMS that it is important to be able to adapt to an evolving world, but our Core Values act as foundation for us to seek excellence and find greatness even in our failures.”
These values have influenced students such as JMS eighth graders Scotty Cameron, Rachel Leonard and Morgan Navick to launch the “Acts of Kindness for Parkland” to recognize
the victims of the Florida shooting at Johnson. Meanwhile at BMS, Moderate Special Needs Teacher Lisa Demarco and BMS students have launched Heart and Sole, a female empowerment group that runs together as a way to work as a team. In the fall of 2017, the Heart and Sole group came together for a five kilometer run with other schools included in the program.
“Heart and Sole includes themes girls can relate to and builds life skills that will help girls as they move through adolescence and beyond,” Demarco, who started the Heart and Sole program, said. “It is accessible to all girls regardless of athletic ability or fitness level.”
At BMS, they identified the core values: kindness, respect, honesty, perseverance and family.
DeMarco started Heart and Sole to give students a platform to showcase these core values and work together as a team.
“We incorporate running and exercising into team building and confidence building activities,” DeMarco said. “This program relates well to our core values: kindness, respect, honesty, perseverance and family.”
At the beginning of the year, the girls start with small running challenges, to build up to the annual 5K to commence their efforts throughout the year. The five kilometer run is a sign of achievement for the girls and DeMarco, which ties in all of the core values and gives everyone who participates a sense of reward for showing their perseverance.
“It teaches the girls perseverance as they begin the season with short running drills,” DeMarco said. “The girls increase their running distance each week and end the season with a celebratory 5K!”
While the Heart and Sole group continues to work on building core values at BMS, school community members at JMS collaborated to identify the following core values: invested, grateful, compassionate, gritty and innovative. Inspired by the value of compassion, Cameron, Navick and Leonard launched the “Acts of Kindness for Parkland” after the horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school.
“We agreed that the we wanted to honor the victims of school shootings, as we learned that a lot of school shootings are because of a lack of kindness,” Cameron said.
Cameron, Leonard and Navick placed a sticky note on each student’s locker in the school inscribed with 17 different challenges for 17 different victims for students to pursue in order to show compassion-a key core value.
“After the students completed their challenges, they put their challenge in the box,” Cameron said. “By the end, most of the boxes were filled with challenges!”
The students’ main goal was to encourage students to display acts of kindness in his school. Throughout the week students in every grade performed acts of kindness due to Scotty’s speech on the morning news at JMS.
“The speech I wrote was hung up on the wall,” Cameron said. “It helped to remind the students what the kindness week was really all about.”