The Ottumwa Courier

April 4, 2014

Notes a pleasant surprise for students

By DUANE NOLLEN
The Oskaloosa Herald

---- — OSKALOOSA — Oskaloosa Middle School students had a pleasant surprise waiting for them when they arrived at school Wednesday — a personal note from a classmate taped to their lockers.

“This is part of our Kindness Campaign we started last year,” OMS Counselor Amanda Hoffman said.

A group of OMS students attended the governor’s anti-bullying conference. There, students divided into small groups to develop ideas for anti-bullying projects. OMS eighth-graders Josie Bunnell and Ruby Johnson decided to take the idea of writing notes and improve it by making them personal. The notes included the students’ name and spoke about an outstanding personal attribute, Hoffman said.

Bunnell said a group of seven students helped them write a note to every middle school student — about 550 notes.

“It was fun,” Bunnell said.

As Hoffman looked up students’ names and things they excelled at, you learn a little more about them, Johnson added.

Hoffman said after school Tuesday, the student group spent about 2 ½ hours taping the notes to students’ lockers.

“Nobody knew it was going to happen,” Hoffman said.

It was a gesture that the students really appreciated.

“A lot of kids kept them,” Johnson said of the personal notes.

“Some people took a picture and posted it (on social media),” Bunnell said.

Hoffman said she got an email from a teacher who said that she saw some students smile after receiving their note who usually do not smile at all.

“We wrote about their inner person,” Bunnell said.

Bunnell said the personal notes were something new that middle school students had not tried before.

Johnson said there were Kindness Notes posted around St. Patrick’s Day, but they did not include students’ names.

It took a lot of effort to get the notes ready for posting.

Students usually spent about an hour a day writing the notes during Media Center time, Bunnell said.

“I’m really proud of our students,” Hoffman said. “They didn’t tell people who did it. They’re not asking for accolades or credit.”

OMS Principal Andy Hotek said he also was proud of the students’ note-writing efforts.

“Many students wanted to save them for scrapbooks,” he said.