The kindness is spreading at Oskaloosa Middle School.
On Friday, students and faculty from Oskaloosa Middle School participated in the first-ever OMS Kindness Day, which included a group photo and outdoor activities for the students, as well as numerous other kindness-related endeavors throughout the day.
Amanda Hoffman, an OMS guidance counselor, said that hundreds of students and around 65 staff members posed for the photo Friday.
Part of the goal of the day was to increase unity among students, according to Hoffman. This is where many of the outdoor group activities played a role, she said.
Hoffman said back in October she and students from OMS and Oskaloosa High School went to the first-annual bullying prevention conference in Des Moines.
After that trip, the Anti-Bullying Club was formed at OMS, explained Hoffman.
The OMS Kindness Day events were planned by students, Hoffman said, adding that they also designed the bright orange T-shirts worn by students and others on that day.
So, why the orange color for the T-shirts?
“That’s what they associate with bullying prevention,” said Hoffman.
The students also came up with the slogan, “Impact the World,” that appears on the T-shirts, Hoffman said.
“That was what they chose because their philosophy is that if you’re being kind and you’re looking at how you can affect the people around you, then you’re not going to be a bully and you’re not going to be mean to other people,” said Hoffman.
It’s important to instill kindness in middle school students, Hoffman said.
“Middle school is a critical age where students are really deciding who they want to be and how they want to be,” explained Hoffman. “And, what I found from working with this group of kids and the ideas that they came up with, is they really want people to be kind and they really want things to go well.”
Hoffman also wanted to thank several area businesses and others that made donations to go toward OMS Kindness Day 2013, which includes Mahaska Lodge No. 644, Musco Lighting, The Johnson Family, Clow Valve, Bates Funeral Chapel, Bill and Ray’s, First National Bank Midwest, as well as Melinda Shanahan.
Oskaloosa Middle School Principal Andy Hotek only sees more kindness in for the future of OMS.
“We just believe that kindness begets kindness and this is just a start,” said Hotek, adding that more kindness days are expected next school year.