Burrillville students complete acts of kindness, win $500 in funding

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BURRILLVILLE – Students at Burrillville High School completed 50 kind deeds in 24 hours with the help of the community, winning $500 for their program of choice.

The challenge came to Burrillville as part of “Hello Week,” an effort to make the culture at the high school more inclusive, and was run through a collaboration with Massachusetts-based nonprofit Do Kind.

The organization brings the challenges to schools across New England, with money awarded to those that can prove they completed a list of kind deeds, with help from the public.

In Burrillville, $500 will support the high school’s rewards program – handed out to students who meet or exceed behavioral standards.

The list went live on the organization’s website at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 and Broncos stepped up, finishing by that same evening.

“Together, led by administrators and teachers, they accomplished all 50 acts of kindness,” announced the organization Thursday night. “As simple as it may sound, Burrillville High School and its proud community showed that by simply taking a few moments to think about others rather than themselves, massively makes our world, our towns, ourselves better.”

The list included tasks such as “write a letter of appreciation to a local business,” and “offer to help an elderly friend or neighbor,” and was updated throughout the day, with items crossed off as they were completed. The community was invited to take part in the program by completing some of the deeds, and participants were asked to take a picture of the act with a sign that says “Burrillville High School,” “Do Kind,” and the date.

The announcement Friday finished off  “Hello Week,” a program aimed at creating a warm and welcoming environment at the school, inspired by those called to action following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the belief that such tragedies are preventable.

Faculty and staff at Burrillville High School greet students at the school entrance to kick off Start With Hello week, an effort to create a welcoming environment at the school.

In an assembly on Monday, students Sierra Madden, Elizabeth Charpentier and Samantha Mansolf called on their peers to create a culture of inclusion at BHS, with small acts such as greeting someone they don’t know in the hallway, or sitting with someone new at lunch. On “Welcoming Wednesday,” students have been asked to wear their brightest, most “welcoming” colors.

“Our main goal for the week is to help create a more warm and welcoming environment in our school and within the community around us,” said Assistant Principal Ashley Crenca, who coordinated the effort. “We hope that this week motivates our student body, faculty, staff and community to perform acts of kindness more frequently and consciously work to make the world a better place.”

Guidance counselor Peter Berthelette helped the three student leaders present the purpose of Start with Hello Week, and the DoKind Challenge, and the message was strengthened through smaller group activities, and discussion in classes and advisory throughout the week.

And on Thursday morning, the anti-bullying effort became a fun, community-wide call to action.

Do Kind was created in 2018 by Tim Fauth, a 20-year public education teacher and administrator in New Jersey and Massachusetts, who wanted to address the gap in education as it relates to social/emotional learning and fundraising.

BHS social worker Mandy LeComte first heard about the program on the radio in June, and brought the idea to administrators.

“After some research and a conference call with the founder Tim Fauth, our MTSS team decided it would be a great opportunity for BHS to spread kindness and fundraise simultaneously,” said Crenca.

Funding will be used to enhance the school’s behavior support initiatives. Through the program, students who are caught following expected behaviors are regularly rewarded with Bronco Bucks, which they can enter into raffles for items such as gift cards, prom tickets and yearbooks.

“We do raffles every month and then raffle off larger prizes at the quarter and semester marks, so it can become expensive,” explained Crenca.

Fauth’s program, like many anti-bullying efforts across the country, is inspired by some concerning facts.

The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics noted that 21 percent of children ages 12-18 have experienced bullying. According to the World Health Organization, by the age of 18, the average American youth will see 200,000 acts of violence on TV or online.

Meanwhile, when it comes to funding for education, 91 percent of teachers spend their own money on school supplies and resources.

Crenca congratulated the students on completing the challenge.

“We’re so proud of you, but we’re even more proud that you all played a small, but vital role in mak(ing) the world better today,” said the assistant principal. “The simplest, easiest things to do are acts of kindness to do that.”

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