■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Editor
Students’ smiles and laughter filled the classrooms and halls of Jacob Wiens Elementary as the school kicked off its Kindness Challenge last week. Students and teachers alike worked to make sure first responders and fellow students and staff were treated with kindness and respect. Jacob Wiens is located in the heart of downtown Hemet.
The students engaged in the project wholeheartedly.
Mr. Montoya and Mrs. Plant’s second grade classes wrote letters and drew pictures for the Hemet Police Department (HPD). The students thanked HPD for keeping criminals off the streets and for finding missing kids.
Mrs. McCrary’s third grade class is extending the project to Valentine’s Day. The students are making paper hearts and collecting 100 of them with little acts of kindness written on each one–for 100 acts of kindness. The project is celebrating the first 100 days of school, and the class has a goal of performing 100 acts of kindness by Valentine’s Day.
In addition, every student in McCrary’s class has a bucket. The students wrote nice notes to each other. When a student says something mean, that student takes from their bucket and the other student’s bucket. And when a student says something kind to another student, both students add a note to their buckets. McCrary started this project on the first day of school.
“Take a smile” is posted on the wall of tiles created in 2005 in the library from all the students and staff from the school’s first year. The school also had a Kindness Station set in the library, the center of the school.
The fifth grade class made a card thanking the nutrition staff for their work.
This reporter got to hear the discussion in Mrs. Plant’s second grade class regarding the thank-you cards.
“Why are we making cards for the police officers?” asked Mrs. Plant. The class had many responses such as, they do nice things for us, they work hard, people are not kind to them and yet they still go to work everyday and they keep us safe.
“Recently, the Hemet Police Department received a surprise delivery of Kindness from the students of Jacob Wiens Elementary School,” said the Hemet Police Department. “During the week of Jan. 22 through Jan. 26, students of Jacob Wiens decided to participate in the Great Kindness Challenge where they took time to make a difference in their community by spreading kindness through various projects.
“The men and women of the Hemet Police Department were honored to receive cards and letters of appreciation from these students as part of this endeavor. While we often get special visits from community members and groups, this thoughtful gesture from the students of Jacob Wiens Elementary School serves to remind our officers of the tremendous community support we enjoy.
“Additionally, it provides opportunity for our officers to pick up what these students have started and challenge ourselves to continue their mission. We, as a department, are very thankful to be a chosen recipient of a ‘Day of Kindness’ and appreciate that they are so community minded. We would like to thank the students and staff of Jacob Wiens Elementary School and the Hemet Unified School District for taking on projects like this and being a positive influence in our community.’”
Parent Liaison Jessica Franco, who organized the project, asked each grade level to write a kind note to the following groups of people: Superintendent Barrett (kindergarten), Hemet firefighters (first grade), Hemet Police Department (second grade), AMR (third grade), District Nutrition Center (fourth grade) and Hemet Hospital doctors and nurses (fifth grade).
Mayor Pro Tem Karlee Meyer stopped by to help the school mascot hand out certificates from Farmer Boys to 32 students who have been in school for 100 days straight!
“I’m very proud of the kids at Jacob Wiens Elementary School recognized for 100 days of perfect attendance,” began Meyer. “No tardies, absences or early dismissals for 100 days! Thank you Jessica Franco and Principal Mazzai for the invite.
“The best part of the day was to see the school’s Kindness Station set up in the library. Jan. 22-26 is known as the Great Kindness Challenge across the world. Over 15,000 schools participate in over 90 countries. Jacob Wiens Elementary represented Hemet by providing many kindness activities last week. The goal of the teachers and staff is to encourage a ‘culture of kindness.’ In spite of all the differences and divisions in our world, it is important to teach our children to be kind,’” concluded Meyer.
What did I learn from the students at Jacob Wiens? Adults have a lot to learn from children, especially when it comes to kindness.