ROXBURY, NJ - Rocks decorated by Nixon School students in celebration of World Kindness Day will be placed around a walking path at Roxbury High School.

The rocks were painted with inspiring messages and pictures as part of the school's participation in the Kindness Rocks Project, an effort spearheaded by third-grade teacher Cathy McInnes as part of World Kindness Day.

World Kindness Day, on Nov. 13, celebrated communities coming together through acts of kindness.

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The Kindness Rocks Project encourages individuals to decorate rocks with positive or inspiring messages and pictures and place them around on their journeys. Says the Kindness Rocks Project website: “One message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.”

“I came across the Kindness Rocks Project last year as I was searching for something for my class to participate in to celebrate kindness which is the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) emphasis for the month of February,” said McInnes. “As I read more about the project, I was amazed at the impact that an encouraging message written on a rock was making. I brought the idea to Principal Lynch and Mr. Swanson to see if we could participate in this kind of project school-wide, and they loved the idea."

Nixon School was given rocks for each student by RP Smith & Son in Succasunna.

The students were then allowed to take the rocks home to decorate. They returned their completed rocks the following week.

The inspiring pieces of art will be delivered to Roxbury High School and will help line the walking path used daily by high school students. “We are working with Principal Miller at the high school in setting a date where Principal Danielle Lynch and a few staff members will line the garden in the front of the building with the rocks,” said McInnes.

The student response to this project has been positive. “The students are beaming as they hand me their painted rocks, and they love that their rocks are going to the high school to bring a smile to the high schoolers as they walk by the garden each day,” she said.

Lynch commended McInnes for her leadership in the effort.

“Special thanks goes to Cathy who has been at the forefront of this effort since February," said Lynch. "She continues to be a champion for Social Emotional Learning and community outreach and I’m personally grateful for her efforts to continue this work not only in her classroom but within our school community as a whole.”

Across town, Jefferson and Kennedy elementary schools also took the opportunity to participate in student kindness projects.

Media Specialist Katey McAuliffe oversaw fourth-grade library projects around kindness at the two schools. She shared how a small act of kindness can make a big difference in someone else’s life and "create a ripple of joy and good feelings.”

McAuliffe shared two examples of how her students helped to spread kindness.

Jefferson fourth-grader Gia Corvalan chose to collect items and donate them to a local animal shelter. She put out the call for Jefferson families to donate dog and cat food and supplies to be dropped off at Jefferson School.

Kennedy fourth-grader Nathan Hopkins used his artistic ability to make artwork and cards for the children at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. His mom, Kim Hopkins, shared this note of thanks to McAuliffe: “I just wanted to thank you for getting Nathan inspired to do a “Small Work” of kindness this month. He didn’t win a prize from the Mo Willems contest, but he enjoyed making his cards to cheer up kids who are sick in the hospital. He felt really proud, like he made a difference, when we got the “Thank You” note back from Goryeb. They laminated his cards so that they can be used to cheer up patients and then washed and reused.”

“As we celebrate World Kindness Day this year in a special way, it reminds us that it’s giving back to our community in such a way that brings us together and keeps us united,” shared McInnes.

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