Spreading kindness with art
"Speak up!" "No dream is too tall!" "Stars don't grow bigger; they shine brighter!"
Those are the messages of the three kindness stickers that National Art Honor Society (NAHS) students created and then distributed at the High School on Feb. 17 and at the Middle School on March 1. The effort to spread kindness throughout campus with the stickers kicked off this fall.
Artist Anna Fuentes, a senior, says she created Gerald the Giraffe, for whom "No dream is too tall," while sitting at the kitchen counter and joking with her mom, who was making spaghetti. Fuentes says she cooked up the idea with her mom, North Marion Payroll/HR Specialist Dina Fuentes, and sketched out Gerald in about 15 minutes.
"I would say that I think my biggest takeaway from it is doing something to make other people happy doesn't have to take so many hours out of your day," Anna Fuentes says. "It could be at the kitchen counter in an instant. It doesn't take a whole lot to be kind."
The process itself took a little longer. On Nov. 9, Bailey and sophomore Scarlett McNamara presented the stickers to the PTO, which is funding the project. The PTO offered constructive feedback, and the artists adapted their works to fulfill the suggestions. The process is similar to a professional art project, with timelines, stakeholders and targeted distribution.
"This is real-life experience, and I really value that we can do that in our community," Bailey says.
Since the Kindness Stickers project launched three years ago, the PTO has been involved, handing the little artworks out at lunch in the project's first year and mailing the cheery images in its second year.
"This is one of the many examples of when the PTO has said 'Yes!' to making connections when COVID seemed to be saying 'No' to so much," Bailey says.
PTO President Sara Hughes says that her group's relationship with the Art Department has "grown and deepened."
"This project fosters independence in the art students as they have a client they can communicate with," Hughes says. "It sharpens our communication skills, it strengthens the bond between schools."
It also strengthens the bond between student artists, two of whom collaborated on one of the stickers, "Speak Up," a result of the combined efforts of senior Vivian McCullough and freshman Calvin Parmenter. McCullough designed it and then brought to life the kelly-green words "Speak Up" and the surrounding imagery of school activities.
"I wanted to do something where we could work together as a community and if we see something bad, we could tell individuals," McCullough says. "I wanted a cool little saying, keeping it light, but inspirational. 'Speak Up' to stop bullying."
Parmenter built her a brick background using colored pencil. They scanned the images together for the final project.
"I learned that it's really satisfying to see something that you made or helped make being distributed; it's a rewarding feeling," Parmenter says.
Freshman Sage Loerts's "Stars don't grow bigger; they shine brighter!" looks like a wild-eyed sun spun of expertly executed graphite.
With the help of a teacher like Bailey and students like Fuentes, Loerts, McCullough, McNamara, and Parmenter, the program has the talent and the people power to keep going. Hughes says the plan is to do just that, continue the Kindness Stickers project that the PTO dreamed up just a few years ago and has kept going through the pandemic.
"It gives me a sense of satisfaction and peace that we have set it up," Hughes says. "I hope we can continue into the future and grow that collaboration into other areas of the schools."
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