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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Roxboro Middle Names Three Kindness Essay Winners

Dec. 6, 2019 -- Kindness pays off; at least it did for three Roxboro Middle Schools students who won their building’s first annual Kindness Essay contest. The project, which was co-sponsored by the PTA and the teachers on the Positive Behaviors Interventions and Support team, asked students to submit essays of no more than 500 words responding to the prompt “Creating a Society Full of Kindness.” Participants were expected to carry out multiple acts of kindness and then write about their experiences.

The essays were reviewed by the 5-member PBIS team including Principal Coleman. They divided the essay by grade levels and then read each one with no names attached, ranking their favorites. “We had to go through our piles to narrow it down three or four times because each one was so good,” Principal Coleman explained. “But these three kept landing on the top,” she said of the essays submitted by 6th grader Dylan Smith, 7th grader Charlotte (Charlee) Nolan, and 8th grader Hannah Williams.

Those three winners were announced on Monday, December 16, when they attended a lunch in the media center with Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere founder Ricky Smith. A native of Warrensville Heights, Mr. Smith’s organization spreads kindness across the country in completely spontaneous and random ways. Handing out umbrellas on a rainy day, giving away tickets to prime sporting events, and cooking homemade meals for the homeless, Mr. Smith travels across the country to 50 cities in 30 days spreading joy. And he clearly revels in it.  

He also revels in spending time with young people. He visits students at Monticello each month and is very eager to continue his relationship with Roxboro. He was curious to learn about the three students’ hopes and dreams, share his own life experiences, and talk about kindness, kindness, kindness. 

Hannah shared her experience feeding the hungry with her church. “One woman was crying and smiling at the same time while I served her food,” she said, living up to her Big Ma’s favorite saying: Sharing is caring.

Charlee called her essay “The Glasses of Kindness,” and wrote about how everyone has the potential to see and show kindness but they sometimes need to view the world with different “prescriptions.” “Everyone has mental glasses,” she said, describing perspective or perception. “They sometimes need to see the world better.”

Dylan, who hopes to be a writer when he grows up, talked about the domino effect of kindness and how when you share joy with one person, it spreads. He also relayed how his mother asks him every evening what he did that was kind that day and what he can do the next day to be even kinder.

The three students each won a $100 Visa gift card, thanks to generous donations from Reaching Heights and the PBIS team. As they described their intentions to donate the money to charities or add people to their Christmas gift lists, Mr. Smith couldn’t contain himself and announced that he was matching their prize money right then and there. “But this time,” he said, “I want you to spend it on yourselves.”

“Wait, . . . really?!” said Hannah. “Are you sure?” Charlee asked multiple times. He was sure, proving Hannah’s point that “kindness is like karma. When you do something kind, it usually comes back to you.”

 Student winners with Ricky Smith

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