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Manorville school’s kindness campaign inspires others globally

Third-graders from Dayton Avenue Elementary School in Manorville

Third-graders from Dayton Avenue Elementary School in Manorville wear their "Kindness Begins With Me" T-shirts on Friday, April 21, 2017. The students' kindness campaign has attracted attention locally and from around the world. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Being kind goes a long way.

That kindness lesson — part of a project by 125 third-graders at Dayton Avenue Elementary School in Manorville — got the attention of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro. His department has partnered with the school, endorsing the “Humble and Kind” campaign the school initiated last fall by having the encouraging phrase displayed on electronic billboards along town roadways.

“These are the fundamental lessons we have to teach. It’s not about being the most popular and braggadocios,” Losquadro said. “It’s about treating people the way you want to be treated.”

The campaign for the entire school year is part of Dayton Avenue’s service learning initiative, combining curriculum with community problem-solving to raise awareness about kind acts, school officials said.

“I didn’t know so many people would be drawn to it,” third-grade student Tayvin Mann, 9, said of the town’s response to the campaign.

Tayvin and her classmates in September wrote letters to community leaders, public officials, police precincts and ambulance companies urging them to be humble and kind. The program soon expanded to “Manner Mondays,” at the school, where students displayed good behavior. They also used kindness-related quotes during morning announcements and a week was dedicated to kindness, said third-grade teacher Kathryn Orlando.

Faculty members sold “Kindness Begins With Me” T-shirts, raising $2,500 that will be given to charities and people in need, school officials said.

Losquadro, who credited his father with instilling similar kindness values in him, cited the importance of having students apply school lessons away from the classroom.

More “Humble and Kind” electronic road signs and lawn signs went up across Brookhaven.

Then the program really took off.

School officials said Dayton Avenue, which has about 500 students, started receiving letters about the campaign from as far away as Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Many included photos of people holding signs encouraging kindness. Some of them were relatives of the students, while others discovered the campaign through social media, officials said.

“We wanted the message to go further than Manorville,” said teacher Christa Von Tronk, who started the campaign with Orlando after watching singer Tim McGraw perform his “Humble and Kind” single and accompanying music video at last year’s Country Music Awards.

Tayvin said she has been inspired by it and “believes in what they are doing.”

“Changing people’s thoughts, culture and changing the community. That’s all we’re looking for,” Von Tronk said. “I wanted the students to actually be humble and kind instead of saying it.”


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