With the motto “Work Hard and Be Kind,” it is evident that the Riccardi staff and student body value kindness. Last spring, they took their enthusiasm for this virtue even further with a kindness campaign. The idea began with a sixth grade student, and together with support from Principal Sue Osterhoudt, a committee was formed with the goal of promoting and acknowledging kindness throughout the school.
This year, the committee has grown to include 16 students and nine staff members who meet weekly. They come up with new ways to encourage kindness, including the “Riccardi pledge” that all students take to be kind and respectful. They also spread the word via morning announcements, with the kindness quote of the week and “Friendly Friday” kindness challenges, which include encouraging students to open the door for someone or to say good morning to another member of the community.
This campaign has spread beyond the Riccardi community. Research scientist Sam Bowser, who works for the Department of Health, came to speak to students at Riccardi and asked if there was a flag that he could take back with him on his next excursion to Antarctica. He was given a flag emblazoned with the words “Riccardi Roars with Kindness,” which is now flying at his research station in Antarctica. Osterhoudt says he will be contacting the students with a video chat program soon so they can see their flag in this remote region.
Following Osterhoudt’s presentation on the kindness campaign at the November Board of Education meeting, Board President Bob Thomann said adults can learn a lot from these students.