Hawley Elementary School Student Council members were ready on Friday, December 13, to hold doors and welcome fellow students to the school’s gymnasium for a special all-school sing-along.
For a month before the event, the entire school spread kindness through an initiative launched on November 14, according to Principal Jo-Ann Peters-Edmondson. In a letter sent home to parents, Ms Peters-Edmondson explained students read the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today, by Carol McCloud.
“A bucket can be filled by showing love to someone or when you say something or do something kind for another person,” Ms Peters-Edmondson wrote. “The act of kindness not only fills their bucket but also your own.”
Students at the school were awarded paper hearts for their random acts of kindness, and each paper heart was submitted into a “Kindness Bucket” in the school’s main office. At the end of each school day, the acts of kindness were randomly drawn and read over the loudspeaker at the school.
While Ms Peters-Edmondson also wrote to parents that Friday, December 13, would be a typical day for students and staff— which she said emphasizes what is known about the importance of routine and keeping with a regular school schedule— she also said a special school-wide sing-along would be held.
“The staff and I agree that there is no more appropriate way to remember those who lost their lives than to recognize everyday acts of kindness and love,” wrote Ms Peters-Edmondson in her letter.
The songs chosen for the sing-along, as Hawley music teacher Brian Kowalsky said after the assembly began, all held messages of hope.
Ms Peters-Edmondson told the gathered students at the start of the assembly that some surprises were in store for them. One surprise was that The Alternate Routes band member Tim Warren was visiting the school for the event, and would sing the song “Nothing More,” which he composed with Eric Donnely, with the students.
The first song sung was “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” Mr Kowalsky lead the gathered students, enthusiastically encouraging them throughout each of the songs.
“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” the students sang. “A song of peace that echoes on and never goes away.”
After singing the song, Mr Kowalsky asked the students to reflect on its message, before introducing art teacher Vicki Sheskin. Ms Sheskin readied the students for a slideshow of artwork, portraits created by second and fourth grade students. The slideshow was set to the song, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me.”
With each slide, students laughed between singing, “You’ve got a friend in me. You’ve got a friend in me. When the road looks rough ahead, and you mile and miles from your nice warm bed: You just remember what your old pal said. Yeah, you’ve got a friend in me… There isn’t anything, I wouldn’t do for you. We stick together and see it through, ‘cause you’ve got a friend in me.”
Before Bruno Mars’s song, “Count on Me” was sung, Mr Kowalsky asked the students to, “think about the message it has.”
“Find out what we’re made of, when we are called to help our friends in need,” the whole school sang. “You can count on me like one, two, three. I’ll be there, and I know when I need it, I can count on you like four, three, two.”
Ms Sheskin then introduced a slideshow of artwork of suns and butterflies created by kindergarteners and third graders at the school. The slideshow was set to “Here Comes The Sun.”
Before Mr Warren introduced himself to the students, the assembly sang “Home” by Phillip Phillips.
“Hold on to me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road, and although this wave is stringing us along, just know you’re not alone. ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home,” the students sang, with Mr Kowalski playing a drum and Mr Warren on his guitar.
Mr Warren said visiting Hawley was a treat, and explained “Nothing More” was written over the summer. He said his band wanted to write an “upbeat song for an upbeat organization.” The song was written for Newtown Kindness, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded after the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in an effort to encourage, facilitate, and recognize the value of kindness, according to the organization.
“We’re just trying to get people to do really nice things for one another,” said Mr Warren. “You guys learning this song is no small thing.”
Mr Warren said he is proud that the students of Hawley took the time to learn “Nothing More,” before he took up his guitar to sing-along with the students.
Hawley Student Council members held banners with the words to the chorus of “Nothing More.” The chorus of the song goes, “We are love, we are one. We are how we treat each other when the day is done. We are peace, we are war. We are how we treat each other and nothing more.”
Before the end of the assembly, Ms Peters-Edmondson quoted the song telling students, “Remember, we are how we treat each other when the day is done.”
For more information about The Alternate Routes and listen to “Nothing More” go to http://www.thealternateroutes.com. Half of the proceeds from the sales of “Nothing More” on iTunes support Newtown Kindness. For more information or to donate to Newtown Kindness visit http://www.newtownkindness.org/ or its Facebook page called “NewtownCTKindess.”
Listen to a recording of Mr Warren singing "Nothing More" with the Hawley school community here.