Grapevine Elementary Students Provide New Links to Kindness
When you walk into Natalie Finch’s second-grade classroom at Grapevine Elementary School, you can’t miss the paper chain links that are draped at the front of the room. Each of these links represent individual acts of kindness as part of Rachel’s Challenge, which motivates students to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion to impact their school and community.
As part of Rachel’s Challenge, Finch’s students participate in “Thank You Thursdays” where they write thank you notes on links for classmates or teachers who have helped them during the week. For second-graders Ashley Mitchell and Aleysa Stephen, they did not want to be limited to being thankful only one day out of a week, so they took matters into their own hands.
“We took Rachel’s Challenge and turned it into something new to get more kindness around our school,” Ashley said. Their desire to get more kindness around the school resulted in the creation of Friendship Friday. According to Ashley and Aleysa, there are three rules for Friendship Friday: Play with different classmates so they know they’re not alone; Always be kind to other people; Be nice to people who are not very nice, because maybe they’ll learn they should be nicer to other people. “We saw some people being left out and we wanted to make sure they had some friends in the school so they wouldn’t be alone anymore,” Aleysa said.
While this started in Finch’s second-grade classroom at Grapevine Elementary, it has now spread campuswide with students from all different grade levels reaching out and making new friends.
“I think it’s pretty cool because whenever you make a friend, you have someone to play with and they have someone to play with,” Ashley said. “Then when they go play with someone else, it just keeps going on and on!”
That idea of starting with one friend and then growing your friendship circle is the inspiration behind Friendship Friday t-shirts that Ashley and Aleysa made that show hands surrounding a tie-dye heart.
“The hands stand for friendship and peace and that we need to look past our differences and share love and kindness,” Aleysa said. “The pattern in the heart starts small and gets bigger and bigger, and that’s what we hope will happen with Friendship Friday. We really want people to be a friend and share the friendship.”
The district’s LEAD 2021 strategic plan calls for all members of the GCISD community to promote citizenship, demonstrate mutual respect and be positive participants in our community. All schools in GCISD have adopted the Rachel’s Challenge program as part of the district’s character development initiatives. Read more about Rachel’s Challenge in GCISD.