Graves County Central Elementary School students help other people, making their unique ‘Kindness Tree’ bloom
“I’ve always been a big advocate of doing random acts of kindness and Debra Peters and I head up the ‘Kindness Rocks’ for Graves County,” said Tracy Hargrove, whose daughter, Skylar, was graduated from Graves County High School last May. Her daughter had attended Central Elementary as a child. Tracy Hargrove continued, “So, I wanted to do something. I started looking up ideas for elementary schools because we really need to teach kids about kindness when they’re young.
“We took some pictures off the internet of ways to do that,” she continued. “Then, (Central Elementary principal) Tiffany Williams and (assistant principal) Alecia Ladd met with me and the three of us discussed it. I’d found a picture of a flat Kindness Tree, but I wanted it to be more three-dimensional. And, we wanted that ‘Wow’ factor and so we added Christmas tree lights. We worked on it for 22 hours over an entire weekend. But, it was worth every second of that time.”
“We really appreciate Mrs. Hargrove bringing this unique object lesson to us,” Williams explained. “She, Stacie Gonshorowski, and Angie Foster did a tremendous amount of work and most of it in one weekend! We thank them for that.”
“What happens is the tree blooms with hearts,” Ladd noted. “When a teacher or staff member sees a student performing an act of kindness, they tell the student showing kindness that they will put the student’s name on a heart and hang it on the tree so that it blooms. This all started just a couple of weeks ago and the tree already is blooming.”
“I was tickled to see how many blooms it already has,” Hargrove said. “It would be great for the Kindness Tree to spread throughout Graves County. I’ve put it on my Facebook account and received more than 100 comments, even one from a friend in Missouri. She said, ‘We need this at my school!’ We even started talking about this project before the Marshall County High School shooting tragedy. I love the positive things that are coming from the tree.
“It’s very important that we start at a young age, so that we can try to stomp out the bullying,” she continued, “or if a child sees bullying, that child is not scared to go up and say something. When a child has performed an act of kindness, they’re so excited to see that someone has noticed and placed that heart on the tree. If we can get more and more of that in our schools and throughout the community, it helps.
“The point is to place in a child’s mind that they have choices,” Hargrove concluded. “We’ve all seen pictures of a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Choose good over bad and positivity over negativity. So, if you see something you know in your heart is not right, be able to say, ‘Hey, don’t do that!’”
Adults Tracy Hargrove (far right), Stacie Gonshorowski (far left), Angie Foster (not pictured) spent 22 hours on a recent weekend creating the “Kindness Tree’ at the Graves County Central Elementary School. Students pictured, from left, are Gracie Gonshorowski, Mylah Gonzalez, Jake Wilson, and Lily Perry. When teachers and other adult faculty and staff members at the school see a student performing an act of kindness, they place a heart on the tree, making it “bloom.” Hargrove got the idea from the internet and hopes it will spread across the Graves County Schools and beyond. She said, “… we really need to teach kids about kindness when they’re young.”
(photo by Paul Schaumburg, Graves County Schools)