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High school group encourages random acts of kindness
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Team captains, club presidents, teachers and others will be distributing green ribbons to students to wear on their lanyard when they perform a random act of kindness at Johnson High. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

A student organization at Johnson High School is encouraging classmates — all 1,300 of them — to show a little kindness in the hallways this spring.

The National Honor Society, stemming from a desire to do something positive in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting this past December, decided to launch “1,300 Random Acts of Kindness,” a campus-based initiative to encourage students to lend a helping hand to fellow Knights.

“We can’t just focus on whether or not we can control guns,” said Abby Stewart, a Johnson senior and president of the honor society. “We need to focus on our schools and the spirit inside of our schools and turn them from this violence to this kindness.”

What Stewart and honor society adviser Ann Brunk came up with was the acts of kindness campaign. For each act of kindness, which could range from picking up a lunch tray to jumping off a dead car battery to taping a dollar bill to the vending machine, students receive green ribbons to display on their identification lanyard. They also get green ribbons, representing Sandy Hook Elementary School’s colors, to write their name on and tape to the window of the media center.

Organizers are hoping for at least 1,300 ribbons before the end of the semester. And with the way the project has caught on, they expect to double that.

“I think kids are proud of it,” Brunk said. “I think they’re proud to be recognized for doing something good.

“1,300 is our minimum. I think the enthusiasm for it has given us the idea that maybe we can even challenge all the Hall County high schools.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the media center window displayed more than 50 ribbons, with more coming by the end of the school day. The program launched Monday.

“It really is infectious,” said Holly Wright, a Johnson junior and honor society member. “I thought it was a really cool, fresh idea when I first heard about it, and I think it’s going to take off beyond just the NHS and the rest of the school involved. Most of our projects are pretty exclusive, so it’s nice to get the rest of the school involved.”

The honor society has enlisted the help of faculty, club presidents and sports team captains to pass out the ribbons to deserving students.

Stewart said she was taken back with how quickly the movement gained traction on the Oakwood campus.

“I think we initially thought we were undertaking this huge task that we would have to talk people into ... and after the first email, everybody was automatically like: ‘Yes, let’s do it,’” she said. “I think that shows the nature of Johnson itself.”

Organizers hope other schools will take a page out of their book and challenge their students to do the same.

“I think it will (catch on),” Stewart said. “I think in the 24 hours that we’ve been doing it, it’s been amazing to see everyone when they came to school be like: ‘Well, what can I do? What can I do?’ I think that attitude is going to continue and continue to grow because attitudes are infectious and it’s going to spread.”

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