Hawthorne Elementary launches Kindness Council

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It didn’t take long for Hawthorne Elementary fifth-grader Javier Brown to connect with the two younger visitors at his table in Sarah Ward’s classroom on Friday. 

The second-graders from Nikki Kilbane’s class — all of whom were seated next to Ward’s fifth-graders — peppered Brown with comments and questions, asking him if he liked football, if he could help them spell words, if social studies was hard. 

They talked about their favorite food and favorite subjects in school while partnering together on projects students across the building are working on as well. 

The gathering is part of Hawthorne’s Kindness Council, a new initiative teachers and staff members launched in October. When the council meets each month, Hawthorne hits the pause button for 30 to 45 minutes and classes from different grade levels partner together on community building activities and service projects.

Kilbane, who helps lead the Kindness Council, said the initiative is designed to support all students becoming leaders, inspire them to take ownership of their school community and foster school pride and belonging.

“And quite simply, to spread a little kindness to others,” she said.

The school kicked off its Kindness Council last month where students participated in ice breaker games and created posters of each other. The school also hosted a Socktober drive where students collected socks that were donated to Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM).

On Friday, every student wrote their name and decorated pieces of paper for a school-wide paper chain to hang in throughout the building. They also decorated Thanksgiving cards for WARM to distribute to senior citizens in the community.

A committee of Hawthorne teachers proposed the kindness council following discussions over the summer to revamp the school’s student council and provide all students with opportunities to become a leader. And with the school population shifting upon the opening of Minerva France Elementary in the fall, teachers thought launching the council this year was an ideal opportunity. 

“We all had specific students in mind we could think of that would benefit from something like this, kids that just needed that chance to be a leader but would never be picked to be one,” Kilbane said.

Brown said he enjoys the Kindness Council, where he can learn about his younger classmates and make connections with other students he often doesn’t encounter during the school day.

“I like it because I can bond with the little people,” he said. “I like their excitement and their energy because I have the same energy.”