CVMS undertakes 15 Days of Kindness |

CVMS undertakes 15 Days of Kindness

by Scott Neuffer

Students of Carson Valley Middle School call it “pulling a RAK.” It has nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter. It has everything to do with Random Acts of Kindness.

“The main objective is to create a positive student climate here at CVMS,” said school counselor Tracey Wadelton.

On Jan. 4, Wadelton and colleague Jodi Wass explained the school’s upcoming 15 Days of Kindness event, which begins Feb. 3 with an assembly and continues for three weeks in a row.

“It’s a pay-it-forward program, so not only will it generate thousands of acts of kindness at CVMS, but it will spread out into the community,” Wadelton said.

The event is being spearheaded by the school’s Make a Difference team. Formed three years ago to implement an anti-bullying program, Make a Difference now has about 110 students in grades 7-9.

“Make a Difference is the umbrella group and under it are a lot of different strands,” Wass explained.

The newest strand has roots in tragedy. Last summer, CVMS lost one of its own when 16-year-old Kody Wilson succumbed to injuries sustained in a June 28 accident on Highway 395.

“Kody was harassed and bullied at CVMS, and his mom (Lisa Thomas) requested that the 30th of every month be Random Act of Kindness Day,” Wadelton said. “Lisa coined the phrase, ‘Be kind because you cannot rewind unkind.’ The Make a Difference team took and adopted that as their theme for the year.”

Motivational speaker Brian Williams of Think Kindness, a Reno-based nonprofit organization, will be kicking off 15 Days of Kindness at the Feb. 3 assembly. The following Monday, students will participate in Hold a Door Open Day. Penny Wars will have students raising funds for lymphoma and leukemia societies, and on Feb. 8 they will be writing letters to troops overseas.

Other highlights include Please and Thank You Day on Feb. 9, Community Day on Feb. 16, High Five Someone New Day on Feb. 17, and Family Kindness Day on Feb. 20, when students will be encouraged to play with their siblings, call their grandparents, and help out around the house.

During the last week of February, students will have to write statements on how they contributed to 15 Days of Kindness. Those statements will be used as admission tickets for the third annual CVMS Jubilee, scheduled for 6-8:30 p.m. March 9. The celebration will include raffle prizes, a dance-off, laser tag, Nerf gun war, bounce house obstacle course, a cakewalk, face-painting and concessions.

“This wouldn’t happen if these students didn’t believe in it,” said Wadelton. “One-seventh of the school population is involved with Make a Difference, and they’re very motivated.”

“They’re proud to be part of it, they buy into it, and that’s what makes the positive difference,” Wass added. “It’s something that sticks with them, that they’ll carry with them as they move on.”

Both counselors agreed that middle school can be difficult for teenagers, a place where hormones and peer pressure first collide. But they believe that the Make a Difference team has already made a huge difference on campus.

“If you ask the staff, they say it feels different,” Wadelton said. “The climate has changed. The other day, a student opened the door for me and said, ‘Look, I’m pulling a RAK.'”

“Overall, you can feel a different tone across campus,” Wass said.

One strand under the Make a Difference umbrella is a program called Project Wisdom. Besides monthly classroom lessons on various themes, the program includes morning messages read over the intercom by CVMS Vice Principal Dan Wold.

Wadelton and Wass said the messages always end with the same phrase:

“Make it a good day or not. The choice is yours.”