When fourth-grade teacher Shawna Lachance sat down in her classroom library with her students at Belgrade Central School earlier this fall, she told them they had an important mission to accomplish. She told them it was meaningful work that no other group of elementary school students had ever done before! Some students sat up with eager eyes, while others waited inquisitively with questionable looks on their faces.
As a board member for the ShineOnCass Foundation (a non-profit created in honor of Messalonskee High School student Cassidy Charette who died in a hayride accident in 2014) Mrs. Lachance knew she had a big opportunity to shine Cassidy’s light with her students every day. At a Foundation retreat, a group of community members shared how they wished to bring the ShineOnCass Foundation’s mission of kindness and volunteerism into community schools. Mrs. Lachance immediately thought of her 9 and 10-year-old students and asked them, ‘how can you shine your light?’
She shared her friend Cassidy’s story and how Cass devoted her short life to service and kindness. She told them about the work of the ShineOnCass Foundation and how Cassidy’s friends and family look for ways to shine her light into the world. One student raised her hand and asked, “Is that why you wear a bracelet that says Cassidy every day?” To which Mrs. Lachance explained that when she sees it, it reminds her of the importance of spreading kindness to others in some way each day.
Inspired, the students got to work brainstorming how they would Shine On Cass. With the help of ideas on randomactsofkindness.org, the ShineOnCass Kindness Matters Bookmarks were born!
On February 4, the students officially (and very excitedly!) gathered around tables at Belgrade Central’s school library with Mrs. Lachance, Rita Daniels (the BCS librarian), and Monica Charette (Cassidy’s Mom) to create their unique bookmarks. While each child colored and decorated, Mrs. Lachance shared how they would secretly place their unique creations and messages of kindness inside a book in the library for the next reader to find.
Each Kindness Matters Bookmark contains a message about the project. The students are hopeful other classes, schools and libraries will adopt their project–maybe even find their bookmark! But mostly, they are proud to be the first class to launch this special ShineOnCass project. Mission accomplished!
If you’d like ShineOnCass Kindness Matters Bookmarks to personalize and share in your school or local library, you can download a printable PDF on the ShineOnCass website www.shineoncass.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request printed materials.
Together, we can make this world a kinder place. #ShineOnCass
written by Shawna Lachance