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Let's be kind

KINDNESS: Kendall Elementary School students carry a banner during the Kindness Chain Parade at Marion High School on Friday.

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

Students and staff members gathered inside Marion High School’s gym for the seventh annual Kindness Rally.

The anti-bullying rally serves to celebrate kind acts that take place in the school district, according to Kayla Brooks, a social service specialist at Kendall Elementary School. The event included the annual Student and Staff Kindness Awards, a Kindness Chain Parade and a carnival.

The Kindness Rally was an event originally thought up by Marion High School students, Brooks said. Students wanted to take a strong stance against bullying, and as a result, the Kindness Rally was born.

“It’s really important to emphasize those kind acts,” Brooks said. “So often we’re surrounded by the negative things ... In school, it’s easy for staff and students to focus on negative things they see within their buildings. When we have everybody constantly looking for kindness within their school, it helps shift their perspective and the focus.”

Students created paper chains throughout the year, with each chain representing a kind act that happened between students or staff members during the year.

The idea behind the chain is to create a “chain reaction” of kindness, Brooks added.

According to Marion High School Principal Keith Burke, the event is a great way to honor students who go above and beyond to show kindness to one another.

“(This is) a positive message, not a negative message,” Burke said. “We have parents, staff, faculty and administration all together with the students (and we’re) preaching the message of ‘We want to love each other, not hate each other.’ It feels a lot better to treat each other kindly than to not.”

The rally’s anti-bullying efforts seek to stop bullying before it ever starts.

“From what I have seen the more emphasis we put on kindness and being intentional about focusing on kindness, the easier it is to address bullying and root it out from the beginning,” Brooks said. “Everyone is more aware of wanting to be recognized for their kind acts.”

There was also a carnival portion of the event which featured bounce houses, games, a photo booth and food.

Tickets for carnival attractions, which sold for five tickets for a $1, go to fund the school’s anti-bullying efforts, including anti-bullying awareness curriculum and next year’s Kindness Rally.

“It really takes the whole school district working together to make this happen,” Brooks added. “It’s really neat to celebrate district-wide how important kindness is to our school district and our community.”