Birches Elementary School kicks off “Great Kindness Challenge Week”

Students will spread the message of kindness and anti-bullying at school throughout the week

Members of the Birches Elementary School safety patrol joined counselor Mike Petticrew with hand-made signs that welcomed students to the “Great Kindness Challenge Week.” The signs read,” Smile and Be Kind,” “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully,” “What Makes You Different, Makes You Wonderful” and “Lend a Hand. Smile.”

Birches Elementary School students and staff are going to great lengths to spread the message that kindness truly does matter through a series of planned activities for the second annual “Great Kindness Challenge Week,” April 3 to April 7 at the school.

To open the week, members of the school’s safety patrol welcomed their classmates with signs celebrating diversity, inclusion and acceptance. Visitors to the school saw messages in the fencing that spelled out “Be Kind!” and “Kindness Matters” with colored plastic cups. Students entered the building under a rainbow-colored balloon canopy and to the sound of joyful music.

Students entered Birches Elementary School on April 3 under a rainbow of kindness.

The rainbow theme tied into the introduction of “Rainbow Rabbit,” a 40-year-old book created by Arthur Vallee, a former animator with the Walt Disney Company in the 1940’s, that is being introduced by Vallee’s daughter, Shirley, and his grandson, Joe Vallee, as an anti-bullying program in schools in New Jersey. Student assistance counselor Mike Petticrew is responsible for bringing the Rainbow Rabbit message of tolerance and kindness to Birches.

Birches Elementary School teachers, from left, Jennifer Scancella, Linette Hice and Angelina Nelson displayed Rainbow Rabbit. The character will be central to their discussions on kindness in the coming week.

The story tells of a rabbit whose colorful coat makes him unlike others in his village, leaving him feeling isolated. Thanks to the kindness of the queen, the rabbit realizes that his unique qualities are what make him special and cause him to be optimistic about a future as bright and colorful as he is.

Throughout the week, students will be discussing Rainbow Rabbit’s message and practicing random acts of kindness throughout the building.