North Marion students spread goodwill for Kindness Day
Nearly everyone is familiar with the sweet, saccharine messages that have become synonymous with Valentine's Day. Each year, millions of children across the country celebrate the day by giving out cards emblazoned with Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes, complete with short sentiments of kindness and love.
But what if those tokens were homemade, with the skill and care of an artist's eye? What if the cliché words were replaced with more neutral messages espousing positivity and kindness?
Members of the North Marion High School National Art Honor Society are going to find out on Friday.
This year, the national Random Acts of Kindness Day is scheduled to be celebrated on Monday, Feb. 17, but for students in the North Marion School District, the day will come a few days earlier, when NAHS members will help distribute hundreds of vinyl decal stickers to their fellow students on Friday, Feb. 14.
"The PTO came to us in October and requested that we make some stickers or vinyl decals for Kindness Day," NAHS member Lindsey Patton said. "Last year they had cookies and they decided this year they were going to be a little different and wanted to know if the art club could do something a little bit different with that."
The PTO was looking for general ideas of positivity and kindness — something bright and cheery that could be distributed via stickers to the student body.
The art club jumped at the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and came up with a variety of designs, ranging from positive messages, cute images and colorful backgrounds.
"Everyone in the club had designs that they wanted to do," Patton said. "They presented it to the PTO and figured out which ones we like the best and which ones would be both well-suited for middle school and high school."
Each artist gave their own creative spin on the idea. Oscar Zurita riffed off the common Valentine practice of using a pun to spread a message, using a happy bee buzzing around a honeycomb with the words 'Bee Kind" floating below. Angela Campa found positive messages she identified with and gave them colorful backdrops — "Broken crayons still color" and "It's OK to be a glowstick. Sometimes we need to break before we shine."
"I wanted to have mostly something they can relate to," Campa said. "It really spoke to me and I thought it could speak to others."
"I kind of went with a sort of general route that people I assume would resonate with," Zurita said. "It's simple and it's relatively small, and it's sort of something you'd put on your water bottle."
Besides being able to show off their artistic chops, the NAHS students were also receptive to the message the PTO wanted to share. With a student body of less than 700 at the high school, there are few strangers and everyone feels responsible for the well-being of their fellow classmates.
"We have a really small school and everyone pretty much knows each other," Patton said. "It's definitely we want to look out for each other — we're all friends here and we just like being here."
"It's much more common these days for teenagers to talk about the troubles they have, either socially or emotionally. Even academically," Zurita said. "I feel it's a trend that's positive toward everybody. We need to talk to each other about our issues, and who can understand that better than your fellow teenagers."
Their designs, along with the rest, will be handed out on Valentine's Day to the student body. The PTO contacted Wilsonville Chevron to sponsor the project, ordering 1,200 stickers — 600 each for the high school and middle school. Many high school students have seen the designs and have shown excitement at being able to snatch up their favorite designs on Friday during advisory period.
For the middle school, NAHS students will hand them out personally during lunch period to help personify the message of kindness and perhaps show that even as you get older, it's ok to be enthusiastic about stickers.
"Over at the high school, everyone's excited about it," Zurita said. "The middle schoolers are a little more self-conscious about it."
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