Fostering Community: Schools Join In On The Great Kindness Challenge

Wednesday January 24, 2024

Students across Kern County are embracing and embodying kindness this week for the Great Kindness Challenge (GKC), a worldwide movement that takes place at the end of January each year and encourages students to find ways to be kind to others.

Participation can be as easy as saying hi to someone new, offering words of encouragement during a tough day, or helping to cheer someone up.

The Great Kindness Challenge started as a bullying prevention campaign under the idea that all kids deserve to learn in a safe, supportive, and caring environment. The GKC program says its goal is to improve school climate and increase student engagement. Nationwide, more than 39,000 schools participated in the challenge last year, fostering a culture of compassion, acceptance, unity, and respect across school campuses.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways Kern County schools have been celebrating this week.

Highgate Elementary School in southwest Bakersfield held a rally to encourage the student body to engage in acts of kindness this week.

Highgate Elementary School.

At Redwood Elementary in the Richland School District in Shafter, Shafter leaders, including city council, the Shafter Youth Center, Learning Center, Police Department and more greeted the students Monday with a Community Kindness Tunnel to celebrate what they call “the most generous week of the year.”

Redwood Elementary School.

Student council members at Rio Bravo Greeley Union School District (RBG) shared kindness notes around campus Tuesday. The notes, which were stuck on each student’s locker shared messages of hope such as “believe in yourself” and compliments like “you look great!”

The student council, made up of sixth through eighth graders, created each of the handmade notes to stick to the lockers. They said it feels good to know someone cares.

Students at the middle school also drew handmade posters showing off their creativity and spreading messages of hope and love around campus.

Rio Bravo Greeley Middle School.

Jennifer Hedge, RBG Superintendent, says students at both the middle school and the elementary school are embracing kindness not just this week, but all throughout the year. The district has a program called “Caught Being Kind” where students who are kind to others get entered into a drawing to win a prize.

RBG Elementary School Principal Amy Palmer says these acts of kindness on campus speak to the culture of the school.

“It teaches our kids to be kind to one another and to recognize kindness,” she said. “And I’ve seen that the culture of our campus is just really about kindness.”

Elementary school students say it makes them feel good to make others happy, and it’s better to be kind than to try to be cool.

Rio Bravo Greeley Elementary School.

Meanwhile, students at Caroline Payne Harris Elementary in the Bakersfield City School District dressed up as their favorite teachers Tuesday to celebrate some of the kindest people they know.

Caroline Payne Harris Elementary School. Photos courtesy of Anahi Sagastume.

Franklin Elementary School (Bakersfield City School District) celebrated kindness all week and opened a kindness booth Thursday. Students decorated the booth and wrote kindness notes to staff and students. There were posters throughout campus spreading kindness, as well as upbeat music playing to bring a joyful spirit.

Franklin Elementary School (BCSD).

Kindness Photo Gallery

At Planz Elementary (Greenfield School District), students “teamed up for kindness” and wore their jerseys.

Students at Warren Jr. High School (Panama-Buena Vista Union School District) created kindness posters to display around campus.

A kindness door decorating contest took place at Planz Elementary (Greenfield School District) this week.

By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.