ROXBURY, NJ - The Kennedy School PTA embarked on a painting project over spring break led by Danielle Vytell-Mitschele, a PTA member and Montville teacher
Students worked together to update artwork in the school and “kreate kindness” by painting inspirational quotes on wooden boards. The painted boards will be placed in strategic locations around the school to encourage and motivate students to be kind to themselves and others.
Danielle Vytell-Mitschele, along with Montville co-advisors Kelly Sturdy-Lange and Mike Morris, lead a group called WISH (What If Students Helped). “This group is aimed at finding projects using strengths and interests to help oneself while helping others,” said Vytell-Mitschele.
“When this project was proposed, I offered the expertise of my staff and students and the idea was created," she said. "The Kennedy staff was integral in getting us the opportunity for the children of Kennedy to be involved. It is said that if there is a reminder and a “buy-in” kindness happens more readily.”
Vytell-Mitschele went on to share how the project evolved.
“The students at Lazar Middle School in Montville researched and created a Google Doc of possible sayings that the Kennedy kids ranked and voted on during their computer classes," she said. "They then took these sayings and, as a collaborative effort, matched the sayings with colors and ideas that could resonate with young children. The students stepped out of their comfort zone to work alongside the elementary students to make changes for Kennedy School, the Kennedy kids, and shocked themselves by making changes in themselves.”
On April 23, the Lazar middle school students and staff took a field trip to Kennedy to paint together with Kennedy students from from PreK to fourth grade who volunteered to come in during their week off to spend an hour painting.
“I was so impressed with how well the Lazar students instructed and gently guided the Kennedy kids while making them feel like painting all-stars," said Kennedy PTA President Gina Recchia. "Friendships were made and some beautiful artwork created to brighten Kennedy School.”
Kennedy student volunteers included:
- Roxbury Community School Preschool – Aiden Michalski and his little brother Bryce, Angel Gonzalez, Ethan Hild, and Ashlyn Mitschele
- Kindergarten – Christian Wilks and Collin Chiu
- First Grade – Kyler Mitschele, Dylan Sabella, Fiona Baker, and Collin Hild
- Second Grade – Cooper Schauble, Nathan Hopkins, Francesca Celeste, Zack Recchia, Tamsin Wawrin, and Ricky Pennisi
- Third Grade – Zara Wyhopen, Giuliana Abate, Jolena Chiu, Brandon Wilks, Ethan Pineiro, Natalie Spina, Sofia Matullo, Dan Recchia, and Sofia Celeste
- Fourth Grade – Andrew Bowles, Kathleen Tusa, Avery Maida, Sara Conzen, Beau Wawrin
- Returning Fifth Grader – Taylor Schauble
The Lazar student volunteers were:
- Sixth Grade – Aiden Furrer, Bianca Gentile, and Daniel Heras
- Seventh Grade – Matthew Hahn, Milania Giudice, Kendall Kabbash, Riley McDermott, and Lindsay Probst
- Eighth Grade – Nicolas DePalma, Gianni Hurley, Tori Monsen, Taran Patchigolla, and Matthew Reiss
Lazar’s teachers were Kelly Sturdy-Lange, Danielle Vytell-Mitschele, Mike Morris, Jenn O’Neill and Eleanor Klinger with a very special thank you to Lou Picaro and Karen Vacca.
“This project will hopefully have made a lifelong impact," said Vytell-Mitschele. "Thank you again Kennedy for your kindness, we are so proud to have helped make a difference.”