In early January, Principal Patti Collins Yetman issued a challenge to the students of Acreman Elementary in Green’s Harbour. She challenged all 144 students to perform 1500 acts of kindness in two months – from January to March. While it seemed like a huge undertaking, it only required the students to perform an average of one act of kindness per week. If they were successful, the students would help her shave off her husband, Mr. Yetman’s beard with each class promised a fruit tray and bottled water as an added incentive if they reached the goal before the March deadline.
Staff were so very impressed to see the amazing acts of kindness undertaken by the students - helping kindergarten students when they come in the mornings, setting up and cleaning up after chess club, tying up shoe laces, and helping out their teachers were just some of the many example. This type of activity encouraged feelings of respect, kindness, empathy, friendship, and social justice within the school. One student bought a book for his class at our recent bookfair and another student organized an awareness-raising event by getting the school population to wear jeans in recognition of those who suffer from rare and unusual diseases.
Not only was the goal of 1500 acts of kindness met but it was exceeded two weeks before the deadline! The classes received their bottled water and fruit trays in recognition of their efforts. Teachers reported that students enjoyed this activity, as students actively looked for ways to help each other out and, amazingly, not all students wanted to be recognized for their acts.
In late March, all the students met in the school gym along with school staff, to perform the shave, with a representative from each class selected to help with the shave. Mr. Yetman pulled a garbage bag over his clothes and sat on a chair on the stage. Ms. Collins Yetman was pleased to assist, so it was a clean shave and to ensure no medical personnel were needed during the activity. Mr. Yetman went to each classroom personally to thank the students for their help.
Ms. Collins Yetman noted that while this was the end of Mr. Yetman’s beard, she is certain it will not be the end of the students of Acreman performing acts of kindness, as she anticipates this school initiative will have long-lasting effects.