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Harpeth Hall Middle School students seek to inspire kindness

"You're on fire" kindness rock

There’s a game of hide-and-seek taking place across Harpeth Hall’s campus this week. And it’s not exactly what you may imagine.

Carefully placed on a windowsill outside the Middle School lobby entrance, a green rock decorated in bright orange flames reads: “You’re on fire!!” Another rock, painted blue with bright green letters, hides underneath a bush alongside the playground. “UR a cool cat,” it says, with cute pointy ears and whiskers drawn around the letters.

The creations are kindness rocks — messages painted by Middle School advisory groups “that offer positive and pleasant surprises to those who find them,” said Judi O’Brien, director of the Middle School. 

The artistic project has generated treasure-hunt excitement across campus with expressions such as “find joy” and “today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” And the exclamations of happiness aren’t the only way students are brightening each other’s days this week.

"Today is a gift" kindness rock

Each year in the Middle School, the first week of December marks Kindness Week — a time for students to spread gratitude, appreciation, positivity, and kindness throughout our community.

Along with the hide-and-seek fun of kindness rocks, Middle School students are engaging in uplifting activities that include creating an “appreciation station” to share notes of gratitude to teachers, using sidewalk chalk to write positive messages for others to see on the way to class or lunch, creating “Be Kind” flowers with student Bear Families, and hanging flyers to decorate the halls with thoughtful words.

“In addition to the learning students do in the classroom, these community-driven activities play a critical role in the development of self-awareness, healthy relationships, empathy for others, and responsible decision-making,” Ms. O’Brien said. “Harpeth Hall’s motto — Let us lift up the mind and spirit — reflects the important connection between social-emotional learning and academic achievement.”

In a season of gratitude and reflection, the student-led kindness initiative has expanded to include an entire month of random acts of kindness. For each day in December, students have submitted suggestions of simple and thoughtful actions they can collectively take to better the world around them.

"December is dedicated to kindness because it is such a simple, yet meaningful message to us as students," said 8th grade student Lily Hare, who helped plan the Middle School's kindness events. "It serves as a way for us to come together and show kindness to one another, which in my opinion, deserves more than one week."

With a continued focus on community-building and connection, students hope that parents and alumnae will also take part in spreading good vibes by completing each day’s kindness act along with the Middle School.

To see each act of kindness, visit Harpeth Hall’s Instagram page and view the story. Then tell us about how you are taking part with your daughter, your family, and your friends.

"Kindness is such an easy thing to spread," Lily said, "and I have confidence that our acts of kindness will extend beyond our campus."