AHS Students Create Goodness During
Season for Nonviolence
Students at Alameda High School (AHS) spent the whole month of March creating “goodness” at Alameda High School, all in the name of caring for themselves, caring for others, and improving the overall school climate.
The idea came up when Bhavna Bharvani, a therapist with Alameda Family Services’ School-Based Health Center, went on a retreat in India. Participants in the retreat made a pledge to create goodness in the world by doing something to care for themselves or others. When Bharvani returned to Alameda, she wanted to introduce something similar as a pilot program for AHS students.
“There is often a peak in the amount of stressors for teens during the month of March” says Kale Jenks, Psy.D., director of the School-Based Health Centers through Alameda Family Services. “We wanted to use this opportunity to address school climate.”
March also is the closing month for the international “Season for Nonviolence,” a 64-day celebration of the lives and philosophies of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both Alameda Unified School District and the City of Alameda participate in the Season for Nonviolence with daily readings, student speech contests, and other activities.
The campaign was simple: Jenks and his staff printed up small
business cards that included a way of doing good in the world for all 23 school days in March. Suggestions included “have patience” (3/2); “get in touch with an old friend” (3/15); “use kind and positive speech” (3/23); and “do something nice for my parents/guardians.” Students were encouraged to document what they did to fulfill each pledge – in a journal, for instance, or as a memo on their phone. Then every Friday, the School-Based Health Center staff and several students set up a table in the quad at lunchtime and would mark off students’ cards.
Leadership students and the Acts of Random Kindness club helped promote the campaign with posters and PA announcements, and students in the school’s TV/Media classes created short video clips on SnapChat to encourage students to participate. Local businesses – including Lola’s Chicken Shack, Poke Koma, Lauren’s Closet, Taqueria Ramiro & Sons, Troy Greek, and i-Tea – provided prizes.
The project was a pilot for AHS this year; next year Jenks hopes to extend it to Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School students as well. “It’s a lot about encouraging teens to take the time to be mindful of what they do every day,” he says.
"What I liked about the Creating Goodness Campaign is that it made me set a major goal for myself during the whole month of March,” says Jess, a senior. “Honestly it looked impossible at first, because my eyes immediately saw the day that said I could only be on social media for twenty minutes, and I check my social media regularly. But somehow by the end of the month I accomplished each of the goals that were set every weekday. What I learned from this experience is that with enough incentive, perseverance, friends supporting me, and desire to achieve my goals, I can make that happen."
Noted Talia, a sophomore at AHS, "The #CreatingGoodness Campaign was amazing since it provided an opportunity for the students at my school, including myself, to give something good to the world and ourselves. Each day's goal was something we could do to be kind to either ourselves or one another, and I think that is very important for a high school environment."
Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said that this is the kind of project that highlights the benefits of the Season for Nonviolence. “We celebrate the Season for Non-Violence in Alameda deliberately and thoughtfully as a way to help the community stay mindful of how we can make positive change in our lives and in the world around us,” he said. “This kind of activity shows just how powerful it is for us to intentionally work at practicing acts of kindness.”
Upcoming Board of Education Meetings
April 25, 2017, 6:30 pm
May 9, 2017, 6:30 pm