By Jessica Jones
A kind community is important for society atleast it is at Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, where teachers, Krista Grinkin and Debbie Santulli, want their school community to be more caring and connected.
With this intent in mind, they created the SAVE Promise Club. The club’s initiative is to improve the school climate, combat social isolation and serve the Caldwell Community.
The first meeting of the club included the two advisors and eight students. The students who participate in this club are encouraged to be leaders of change. Their goal is to empower themselves and others through positive interactions with peers. The more positive, kind and caring the students are, the more their community will feel connected and safe.
Their first positive event as a club was starting the school year off with Start with Hello Week. The students participated in activities that encouraged communication among classmates, especially those who did not ordinarily socialize with one another. Students were also taught the signs of social isolation which include sitting alone at lunch, having trouble finding groups to work with, and being bullied. When feeling isolated or alone, it is nice when someone decides to extend a hand of friendship.
The club has already held multiple other events and activities during the first two months of school to promote this positive ideal. One of their events was Hey Day, where the students wore name tags and were encouraged to address each other by name during the day, creating a friendly environment among the students. They also played Human Bingo, an activity created to give students the opportunity to get to know more about each other’s likes and hobbies.
Other special days they have had include Green Day, a spirit day to promote kindness and respect, and Random Acts of Kindness Day which encouraged students to do more good deeds. They had an advisory lesson on respect and kindness where all the students participated in activities and watched a video on social isolation.
The club even does community service outside of their school community. The eighth grade class held a canned food drives that benefitted the Caldwell Food Bank. This promoted not only showing kindness to individuals, but kindness to the community as a whole.
Grinkin and Santulli expressed how social change takes time, but that the students seem to be adapting well, and the students even decided to participate in mixing it up at lunch and sitting with people they might not have before.
“The club seems to be growing in membership at every meeting, said Grinkin, club advisors.
When asked what they think this program will do for the students and the school in the long run, Grinkin and Santulli said that they hope it enhances the school’s overall feeling of safety and security among classmates and in general.
This school believes in collaboration and community, and the students and advisors are confident that the SAVE Promise club will decrease the number of students who feel isolated or alone at school. They want to continue this positive tradition by making current club members Student Ambassadors next year. These students will welcome incoming students and help them adapt to their new environment.
The SAVE Promise club believes in a safe environment where students of many abilities can learn and grow alongside friends and faculty, and they are creating this environment at their school by reaching out to those who need it.