Standing Up for Kindness
Out of anguish, a seed grows to produce beauty
In times of trial, the brave step forward.
Unrest caught hold at Calvert High School a year ago. It divided students into Us and Them.
Into this turmoil stepped a handful of the brave.
At a June assembly to bring the students together, senior E.J. LaGoy spoke up. “Words hurt,” she said. “Stop it! Just stop it!”
Freshman Andrea Kelson read her poem about bullying. A Revolution ended with this challenge: “If you didn’t know, now you do … What are you gonna do about it?”
by Andrea Kelson
Believe me when I say
The effect was profound, according to counselor Roberta Reeves. Twelve students of different races, genders and social strata stepped up as the group Braver, Kinder Calvert. This year weekly meetings began under her sponsorship.
“They’re working to create a kinder, braver world that celebrates individuality and empowers young people to accept diversity,” Reeves says.
Last October, Braver, Kinder Calvert built a Wall of Intolerance, with students adding one paper brick each time they saw a bully at work. At the end of each week, the students met to talk about the bullies behind the bricks.
Valentine’s Day brought Braver, Kinder Cards. When students saw an act of kindness, they described it on a card. Teachers received the cards and delivered them at week’s end to the surprised doers of kindnesses small and large.
All this since LaGoy spoke out. And since Kelson read her poem.
“Out of anguish, these young ladies really stepped up and made a difference,” Reeves says. “They planted a seed. It grew and has produced beauty.”
Transformation has spread throughout the school.
“When you speak out against bullying, that is social justice at work,” Reeves tells her students. “You’re walking in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who died for this cause.”
Following in King’s footsteps, the students of Braver, Kinder Calvert travel to the King Memorial in Washington, D.C., on May 5 to present a program of poetry and song honoring Dr. King.