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Lone Oak Middle Team Is KIND Challenge Finalist
By WestKyStar and LOMS Staff
PADUCAH, KY - Lone Oak Middle School is one of 10 schools in the United States selected as finalists in the KIND School Challenge.

The KIND Foundation and the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University are hosting the contest as a way to engage student groups to address barriers to kindness within their schools. The goal is to empower and mobilize students to step outside of themselves and their immediate social circles to create kinder, more inclusive school communities.

The winning project wins $1,500 and will be publicly featured as a model of promoting kindness in schools across the country.

Morgan Guess, an eighth grader at LOMS and a member of the Harvard Youth Advisory Council, submitted a proposal and met with school officials for support. Guess selected four students to join her team: Caroline Sivills, sixth grade; Jackson Storms, seventh grade; and Madelyn Thompson, seventh grade. Leigh Powers, seventh grade reading and writing teacher, is the school leader.

“Operation Gratitude” began at the start of March and will continue through the end of the month. All nine language arts teachers engage all 800 kids every day. The team must present their findings and evidence by April 24 with a winner announced in May.

Morgan and her mom read research about the power gratitude has on kindness and believed it could be both impactful and simple enough to duplicate in any school.

“I have come to believe that kindness begins with how we see ourselves and our world,” said Morgan. “I also believe it begins with gratitude and that doesn’t come naturally to teens. But I do believe gratitude can change lives. It can take us from depression and darkness into a world of possibility and light. So, our idea was to set aside time at our school every day for students to write down 3 things they are thankful for. We spend 5 minutes focused on the good in our lives and we start our day with a focus on the positive. The hope is that we can prove that when practiced daily, gratitude can change attitudes and behaviors.”

Powers was Morgan’s choice to be the teacher leader because of her positive attitude and commitment to kindness but Morgan was quick to say all of the teachers have been supportive and a critical part of the team. “Our school is committed and focused on providing a positive school climate for all of our students,” said Powers. “We are proud to be selected as a finalist and hope we can be a positive example and inspire students and schools across our nation.”

Guess says this project brings her bullying experience full circle.

"Six years ago when I was bullied, our community wasn't talking much about this issue. I have learned that we all have a responsibility to stand up and speak out to the injustices of the world and I have been grateful for those who have supported my work. I am especially proud that is it my school that is being nationally recognized for their commitment to kindness."

Published 04:04 PM, Saturday Mar. 11, 2017
Updated 04:35 PM, Saturday Mar. 11, 2017

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