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'So once again, I'd like to remind you: throw kindness around like confetti.'

PMG FILE PHOTO - Alyson JohnstonKindness should be like confetti — there should be an abundance of it, it should be everywhere, and it should be thrown around all of the time.

In high school — in any stage of life — it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. It's difficult to pull away from all of the minute things that plague our minds during the day.

What I've learned, though, is that treating people with respect and kindness is something that you should always make time for. Of course, I know this isn't a new idea. I'm not saying anything revolutionary or controversial.

It's always nice to have a reminder to evaluate your actions, and I hope that's what this piece can serve as.

My junior year of high school hasn't been an easy one. Well, junior year tends to be difficult for every high schooler, so I guess I'm not that unusual.

For me, 11th grade was filled with lots of health issues and doctor's appointments, which only added to the stress of the courses I was taking. Your junior year is one of the main things colleges evaluate when you apply, so I was extremely anxious about what would happen with all of my missed school.

But those challenging months were met with kindness. The support I had from teachers, friends and family made those hard times easier. The little things meant the most: a supportive comment, a simple hello or even a smile in the hallway.

A significant amount of support came from people who weren't fully aware of what was going on. These people who chose to lead with kindness made everything a little easier and yet they had no idea of the impact they had on me.

Of course, conversely, there were people who made offhanded comments that served no purpose but to be mean. Those never felt great, but the nice words and actions of others always shined brighter than their negative counterparts.

When I was out of school for a week in October, I had to take my first big test in one of my classes. I was nervous because I was taking the test a few days early, which required taking it at 7 a.m. on a Monday morning.

During the test, I had worked myself up so much I was in tears. I was stressed about the school I would miss, but I was specifically upset about one difficult question.

I turned the exam in, fighting back tears and with a quick "thank you," I was on my way. A few days later, my teacher emailed my mom, telling her that he was thinking of me and that I did well on my test.

That one email instantly brought tears to my eyes. My teacher had taken time out of the day to shoot a quick email. He likely never gave it a second thought, but in that moment, it meant the world to me.

I walked out of that test upset and thinking I did poorly, but I came back to class a week later feeling confident and welcome, not because of my test score, but because of the kindness of my teacher.

You have no idea how much a small act can positively impact someone's life. So once again, I'd like to remind you: throw kindness around like confetti.

Alyson Johnston is a junior at Wilsonville High School.


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