The Kinder Kindness Project is going strong at Atwood! Kindergarten teacher Maggie Sollis and her students have been busier than ever this year, showing kindness and caring to their Atwood family as well as the broader community.
This past fall, Mrs. Solis and her kindergarteners made Kindness Keeper Scarecrows, with the help of Kelly Roderick. The scarecrows were placed around Oakland with handwritten messages of love and kindness. The students also collected acorn caps from the outdoor classroom at Atwood and made felted acorn ornaments for the Friends of Maine’s Children’s Home’s Christmas tree at the Sukeforth festival of trees. In November, both kindergarten classes joined together and made 70 pies for the community Thanksgiving dinner at Messalonskee thanks to a wonderful donation from the Kiwanis Club of Greater Waterville Area.
This is the second year that Mrs. Solis has been doing an official, year-long Kinder Kindness project with kindness events planned for each month of the school year. “It really is an important piece of a child’s education,” said Solis. “I feel it’s just as valuable as learning to read, write and do math. Kindness matters.”
In December, the Kinder Kindness crew made dog treats and cat toys for the Waterville Humane Society with the help of their second-grade book buddies and then turned their focus towards their school. To bring a little extra holiday cheer to the building, the class made paper Christmas trees and delivered them to each classroom. They also wrote a song for Principal Jennifer McGee to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree” and sang it to her in the Atwood Office. “She does so much for us each and every day and makes Atwood such a wonderful place to learn and grow,” said Solis. “The kids decided a song would be the best way to represent her. So that is what we did.”
To kick off the New Year, Mrs. Solis and her students decided to celebrate the people who keep Atwood up and running – the “behind the scenes heroes.” They recognized Atwood administrative assistant Rhoda Willard, nurse Holly Andre, custodians David Grivois and Derek Nickerson, and nutrition specialists Angie Stanton and Bryan Witham.
The students drew self-portraits and created a video in Chatter Pix which paired their drawings with recordings of why they appreciated each of the staff members. They then made paper hearts inviting each staff member to come to Mrs. Solis’s classroom for a surprise. “We invited them down to our room to put their feet up for a few minutes and have a sweet treat. When they came into the classroom, one of my students, Chase, stood up and explained why we invited them down and how much we love them and want to thank them. It was very sweet,” said Solis.
Just before February break, the students made beautiful valentines using celery hearts and red paint. They made a rose print with the words, “You are loved” under it for each of the residents at Northern Light Inland Hospital’s Lakewood Continuing Care and all the OB and acute care patients at Inland Hospital.
The students clearly have a great time with the projects, and, whether they know it or not, they are learning a crucial lesson from these experiences. With each kindness project, Mrs. Solis’s students are learning that no matter how small they may be, their actions can still have a positive impact on their world. That may be the most important lesson there is.