At Roosevelt Middle School, random acts of kindness are becoming a regular part of everyday life.
A student accidently drops an arm load of books in
he hallway during hurried passing time and sure enough, another student stops and helps pick them up.
A teacher is setting up a complicated display in the classroom and sure enough, a student spontaneously offers to help with the task.
A lunch payment is found on the floor outside the office and sure enough, a student turns it in.
“These kids here are fantastic. They really do help each other… And I hear that from all over – new students, substitute teachers – it’s really a positive climate all around and these kids make that happen,” said Principal Greg Blodgett.
In recognition of those acts of kindness – and to encourage perpetual acts of kindness – a “Royal Difference” recognition system has been established at the middle school.
Anytime a staff member witnesses an act of kindness, he submits a form to Blodgett describing that act and identifying the student.
Blodgett then invites that student to his office where congratulations are offered and tokens of appreciation are given to the helpful student.
“There are usually over one hundred Royal Difference slips submitted throughout the school year,” said Lauren Renstrom, a Roosevelt teacher who helps to recognize students who make a “royal difference.”
At the end of each trimester, Royal Difference-makers’ forms are put into a jar for a drawing. The winner of that drawing, which takes place during a Roosevelt staff meeting, receives a $50 VISA gift card from Wells Fargo Bank of Blaine.
“We just try to recognize kids for the good things they are doing,” Blodgett said.
Eighth-grader Kasey Ecklund was Roosevelt’s first trimester winner of the Royal Difference drawing.
Ecklund’s good deed was recognized when he found a collection of foreign currency and promptly took steps to make sure it was returned to its rightful owner.
“I’ve just always wanted to help other people. It just seemed like the natural thing to do,” said Ecklund, the middle child of five whose mom is a home health care nurse and whose dad drives truck.
Ecklund said he used his $50 Royal Difference prize to buy an XBox game – and who knows, Ecklund’s next “random act of kindness” may be to invite his brothers and sisters and friends to play that game, too.
Royal Differences are rampant at Roosevelt and Blodgett appreciates every one of them.
“Being a good citizen, kind, considerate and helpful to each other improves the school climate and makes learning more enjoyable,” Renstrom said. “It is always wonderful to see students demonstrate acts of kindness without being asked.”
Roosevelt staff utilize several other ways of recognizing their students, Blodgett said.
For example, when students make the honor roll, they are invited to the principal’s office where they are given a congratulatory letter and a coupon for Subway sandwich shop.
Also, each month, each department and each team of teachers identifies a Student of the Month. That means 17 students each month are heralded with a commemorative certificate, a photograph on display in the main hallway, a Subway gift card and a place of honor on the school’s website. Not only that, a reception for those Students of the Month takes place in the lunchroom.
“We just really try to recognize kids for the good things they are doing,” Blodgett said.
And that goodness seems to be contagious.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org