UNION, NJ – Students and staff at Connecticut Farms Elementary School have been celebrating kindness throughout January and February.

During the week of January 25, students celebrated the Great Kindness Challenge, a list of “acts of kindness to complete to spread joy and love to others,” said school counselor Jennifer Parkhurst. Students were challenged to complete at least one item on the list, and to share photos of their acts of kindness along with a reflection on how it made them feel. Parkhurst said students who participated were entered into a raffle, with special prizes provided by the school PTA.  Fourty-four students entered.  

Raffle winners were kindergartner Olivia Esteves and fourth grader Victoria Amorim. When asked about participating in the challenge, Victoria said, "every time somebody does an act of kindness your heart smiles. It makes my heart fill with joy when I do an act of kindness. When the mail carrier came, I saw the smile they had on their face while they were reading my note. After helping a classmate, I smiled after seeing a message thanking me. Every time you do an act of kindness, it is a boomerang."

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During the week of February 14, students celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week with classroom visits from Parkhurst, special kindness-themed morning announcements, and the sharing of special ideas for acts of kindness, such as sending e-cards to children at St. Jude's Children's Hospital for Valentine's Day. This year's theme for Random Acts of Kindness Week was to "explore the good" and to "make kindness the norm”.  “We hope that by incorporating the topic of kindness into our daily messages to students, we inspire them to share small acts of love and kindness each day and to recognize the power that kindness can have,” said Parkhurst.

Students were also able to participate in a fun football-style "Kindness is Super" game, said Parkhurst.  During the two weeks leading up to the "big game" on Feb. 7, teachers and school staff recognized students who were caught being kind. Students were acknowledged in the school’s virtual morning announcements and were entered into the game, with a chance to win prizes based on the score. Winning students were fourth graders Jennifer Morales and Victoria Amorim, and first-grader Ariel Harris. Jennifer was recognized by her teacher Olga Korzen for sending a thoughtful message to her asking how she was doing during a snow day. Victoria was recognized by her teacher Mrs. Freitas for always helping others, and spending her free time helping a classmate with their math. Ariel was recognized by Ms. Savarese for telling her friends they did a nice job presenting their science projects. The winning students received prizes from the PTA.

Connecticut Farms School’s Social Committee also held a special kindness raffle for staff.   Staff members were asked to create a poster completing the sentence "kindness is.." If they sent a photo in with their poster, they were entered into a raffle to win a gift card. The winning staff members were first grade teachers Eric Marabuto and Ms. Savarese.