Kindness Awards put outstanding MCS students, staff in the spotlight

Posted on May. 03 2016 by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Eight students — one from each of our schools — earned a special honor at the MCS Kindness Rally last week: the third annual Student Kindness Awards. New this year, eight staff members, — one from each school — were also honored.

Marion Community Schools believes that simple acts of kindness have the power to change our classrooms, our schools, our community, and the world. Because of that, we truly believe the Kindness Awards are some of the highest honors we can bestow. The 2016 Kindness Awards were presented during the Chain Reaction Ceremony at the fourth annual Kindness Rally on April 29, 2016, at MHS's Bill Green Arena. The staff at each school picked one student who embodied the spirit of kindness, and who consistently exhibited everyday kindness to those around them. The staff members honored were nominated by their colleagues and students.



Left to right: MCS Safety Director Justine Pond; Mea Lindsay, Tucker Career and Tech Center's 2016 Student Kindness Award honoree; Deshan'a Lindsey, MHS honoree; Allen Elementary social worker Lori Brane; Victoria Plunket, McCulloch Junior High honoree; McCulloch junior high social worker Angela Schenck; Ceceilia Mullen, Justice Intermediate honoree; Justice interventionist Nancy Miller, Jayce Flemmons, Riverview Elementary honoree; Justice social worker Anita Brown; Grace Chandler, Kendall Elementary honoree; Kyliegh Yeakle, Allen Elementary honoree. (Not pictured: Alora O'Donnell, Frances Slocum honoree.)
 

Here are the students who earned the 2016 Student Kindness Awards, and a little bit about why they were chosen:
  • Allen Elementary School: Kyliegh Yeakle is a quiet mannered child who will help anyone in need.  She is thoughtful, creative, fun, and never says a negative word. Kyliegh works well in groups and is a helper to her teacher. She always pitches in to clean up in class and encourage others. When in groups, Kyliegh makes other feel good. She builds up adults and students. Kindness is a character trait that Kyliegh displays each and every day.
  • Frances Slocum Elementary School: Alora O'Donnell is one of the kindest students we have at Frances Slocum Elementary. Kindness, by definition, is "the state of being kind" or better put, "of a good or benevolent nature". Alora is, by nature, a kind, gentle and caring young lady. She is attentive to those around her, and shows tender help to everyone, regardless of who they are. Alora has a sweet way of never making anyone feel embarrassed if they are in need. Our classroom and our school are much better places because we have Alora O'Donnell with us.
  • Kendall Elementary School: Grace Chandler’s strengths include empathy, listening, helpfulness, compassion, encouragement, supportiveness, caring, and cooperation. Grace created the Kindness Kids Club at Kendall. They visited Lutheran Children’s Hospital in Fort Wayne to deliver books donated by the Kendall family. The Kindness Kids Club also visited patients, read books, and did holiday crafts with the patients. Grace approaches any and every situation with others in mind. Grace has made a positive impact by creating the Kindness Kids Club. She has invited the entire school to participate in the book drive for the hospital and the card drive for Miller’s Merry Manor. Grace also wrote a $500 grant for The Salvation Army.
  • Riverview Elementary School: Jayce Flemmons is an amazing student. She is always willing to do her best and encourages other students to do their best too. Jayce consistently models good behavior and study skills for her peers. Jayce leads groups without being “bossy” to her group mates. Jayce displays kindness when helping students with their work, playing with new students at recess, and sitting with them at lunch. Jayce also makes cards for her peers when they are having personal issues. Jayce is the type of student any teacher would love having in class. She is funny, sweet, and insightful. She never gets upset and always tries to make others feel appreciated.
  • Justice Intermediate School: Ceceilia Mullen always leads by example. She is a model student in all ways. Ceceilia is always the first to volunteer to help. She is always herself and doesn’t let others sway her mood, morals, or beliefs. That is very hard for someone her age. Cecilia is always kind and thoughtful of all around her. She ignores negativity around her, stands up for her peers, and speaks out when necessary. Ceceilia has been witnessed sticking up for students when others were putting them down. She picks ups books when they are knocked out of someone’s hand, and she talks to adults with confidence when she knows something isn’t right and a student needs help. Ceceilia is one of the top clarinet players in band this year, in talent/ability, leadership, and behavior — a package deal! Ceceilia is always the first to help someone with the everyday things that become the most meaningful — a sweet smile, helping a student with their locker, giving a hug, advice, or just to listen. Ceceilia is a great role model of being in control of her behavior, emotions, and actions. She is caring, mature, compassionate, and has a big heart for others.
  • McCulloch Junior High School: Victoria Plunket is the type of person that will listen to you when you need a friend. She will always stand up for the "underdog." If she observes someone being mistreated she steps in to the defend them. Victoria can always make you laugh and put a smile on your face. She is a loyal friend. She has been a positive role model and good leader in the class and out. She displays kindness every day by just saying “Hi” and acknowledging others. Victoria’s good-hearted nature, love of others, and ability to stand up for what is right is what makes her our Kindness Award recipient.
  • Marion High School: Dezhan’a Lindsey’s outstanding qualities include empathy, listening, and helpfulness. She also has a willing spirit. Dezhan’a stands out as a positive role model with a great work ethic and high morals. She often speaks of these things in front of other students, not something everyone has the courage to do. Just recently Dezhan’a found a girl crying in the hallway and brought her into the library, calming her down, listening, asking her what was wrong. She was so kind and thoughtful of this student. Dezhan’a is extremely mature and an absolute pleasure. She always has a smile and a willingness to help others in any way.
  • Tucker Career and Technology Center: Mea Lindsey is an outstanding student who has excellent communication skills and is always willing to help other students out when they are struggling on a particular assignment. Mea is always willing to pitch in and do her part to assist in the flow of the classroom. Mea is a good leader and always encourages students to do their best. Mea recently displayed support to a friend who was struggling with personal issues. Mea was able to listen and support the student. Mea has patience and will take the time to explain assignments to help other students understand the assignment. Mea is a pleasure to have in class.


Left to right: Gabe Galvin, Tucker Career and Tech Center's 2016 Staff Kindness Award honoree; Kristy Sisson, Riverview Elementary honoree; Erin Verilion, Kendall Elementary honoree; Kelly Bare, Justice Intermediate honoree; Judy Warner, Allen Elementary honoree; Vicky Lakes, Frances Slocum Elementary honoree;  MCS Superintendent Brad Lindsay. (Not pictured: Aimee Williams, McCulloch Junior High honoree; and Natalie Wierenga, MHS honoree.)
 
Here are the staff members who earned the 2016 Staff Kindness Awards, and a little bit about why they were chosen:
  • Allen Elementary School: Judy Warner has had numerous positions at Allen. The students love her, and she loves all our students. Judy seeks out students that need extra love and makes them feel special. Judy goes above and beyond her job, never complains, always has a smile on her face. Allen has been blessed to have such an amazing person. We all love you Judy! Here are some of the words used to describe Judy:
    • Joyful
    • Utterly amazing
    • Dependable
    • Yes she can!
    • Wonderful
    • Awesome
    • Ready to go!
    • Nice not naughty
    • Extraordinary
    • Reliable
  • Frances Slocum Elementary School: Vicky Lakes. Trying to find words that will fully explain Vicky is very difficult. Her compassion for her students is amazing. She spends countless hours going above and beyond the school day, working with her students that are physically unable to attend school during normal hours — and NEVER complains! Instead we hear her talking about how proud she is of the strides they are making! Her humor is the bright spot in the day for many of our staff. Her complete commitment to Frances Slocum, her students and our staff are an inspiration!  Vicky, we love you and we are thankful for you every day! You are B.R.A.V.E!
  • Kendall Elementary School: Erin Vermilion. Words from students:
    • “Mrs. Vermilion is always there for me no matter what. She helps kids. She is kind and loving. She is a good teacher and no matter what she is kind and loving. She is like our mom.”
    • “I think Mrs. Vermilion is a kind person, and I am thankful she is here because she likes to make sure students are OK if they fall down. She is also a good person because she helps students when they need help. Not only does she help students but she also helps teachers and staff members.”
    • “Mrs. Vermilion teaches us, and Mrs. Vermilion keeps us safe so others won’t get hurt.”
    • “When you need her she is always there. You could have a down day and she will flip it around.”
  • Riverview Elementary School: Kristy Sisson. Words from students:
    • “I saw Mrs. Sisson being kind to another kid when she was crying about her grandma not hugging her, so Mrs. Sission said that she was a grandmother and she hugged her."
    • "Mrs. Sisson always listens to me.”
    • “Mrs. Sisson displays kindness by helping kids at school. She says good morning when school starts. When I have an off day she cheers me up. She is so nice and very, very kind. Every time I see Mrs. Sisson she makes me happy, and every day she puts a smile on my face. She is super nice and holds the door for people. I bet she has made everyone happy.”
    • “Every single day Mrs. Sisson is kind to us.”
    • “Mrs. Sisson is very kind to me and helps me up when I fall.”
  • Justice Intermediate School: Kelly Bare. Words from students:
    • “I’d like to nominate Mrs. Bare because she is the most kindest person I know. Even though she may have a bad day, she is still polite and respects everybody. When I have problems with my flute or with music notes she always helps me. When I’m having a bad day Mrs. Bare greets me with a smile and helps me stay positive. She’s like a second mother to me, and she cares for others as if they were her children. Mrs. Bare is the most sweetest, responsible, and the most respectful person I know.”
    • “Mrs. Bare has displayed kindness by always being there for you and giving you a smile when you walk in the door.”
    • “Mrs. Bare is always kind and respectful. She helps her students and also makes sure they have fun.”
    • “Mrs. Bare is always kind and always makes sure I know what I’m doing before I do it.  If she uses my instrument for something she lets me know immediately. She is always smiling and never fails to make me smile.”
  • McCulloch Junior High School: Aimee Williams.  Words from students:
    • “Ms. Williams has displayed many acts of kindness. When a student needed it, she took time out of her day to sew a student’s jacket sleeve because it ripped. She thinks highly of us and makes sure we know it. She shows us respect.”
    • “Ms. Williams helped me through so much. She helped me when I didn’t understand a problem or a situation. Ms. Williams always puts a smile on my face when I’m feeling sad. She’s like a second mom. She’s my best friend just without the sleepovers.”
    • “When people were writing things about me or my girlfriend she was there for me. She helped me with my parent situation when I was acting out towards other people. I still do, but more or less she was there for me and is like an aunt to me so thank you Ms. Williams. I appreciate you.”
    • “She is a teacher I really don’t want to lose.”
    • “She inspires me to keep pushing forward. She is my favorite teacher. Bless you Ms. Williams.”
    • “Ms. Williams has displayed kindness to me by helping me out with my work if I don’t understand it. She helps me out when I get mad, she helps me not to fight, and she just helped me out through eighth grade and I just want to thank her for it through this nomination. Thank you Ms. Williams. You’re the best teacher I’ve had through the eighth grade.”
    • “Ms. Williams has shown kindness to all of us students. When she sees that something is wrong she drops everything she is doing to try and fix the problem. She asks certain kids if they are OK just because she cares so much. She is kind and nice. She helps you with your issues. There isn’t anything else to say other than she’s the best teacher you could ever have, the nicest person you could ever meet.”
  • Marion High School: Natalie Wierenga. Words from students:
    • “Ms. Wierenga has displayed kindness and patience throughout the entire school year.  She’s habitually cheerful and understanding and shows interest in the lives and opinions of all her students. I’ve been in her class all year and the first semester I was put in with a very obedient class while this semester it is definitely not the case. Regardless, she keeps her cool and still manages to satisfy whatever need for attention any student has.  She is a very thoughtful teacher, and it’s clear that she cares for her students and enjoys seeing them happy. There are others in the building who are wonderful instructors, but I’ve never witnessed the same kindness and understanding that she displays daily without exceptions. I believe that the kindness award should go to someone who shows the kindness of their character every single day. Ms. Wierenga has taught me just as much about respect and equality as she has English, and I have grown as a person since the beginning of the year.”
  • Tucker Career and Technology Center: Gabe Galvan is a hard working teacher who is completely dedicated to his students. Before making a decision or creating a lesson plan Gabe asks the following question: How will this decision benefit students? Gabe is always calling home or communicating with the student’s home school as soon as a student starts to struggle. When surveying the students, they always list Gabe as a positive role model.
The annual Kindness Rally is a way for us to celebrate everyday acts of kindness and the difference they can make. We thank those who participated in the Chain Reaction Ceremony, and we hope everyone had a great time at the carnival that followed!

Let's all pledge to keep the chain reaction of kindness going!

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: All-City Art Show (new this year: music!)

Posted on Apr. 27 2016 by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Where can you view spectacular art, support young artists, try your hand at various art techniques, and hear performances from some of the most talented young musicians around? At Marion Community Schools’ upcoming All-City Art Show!



Visitors peruse the art on display at the 2015 All-City Art Show.

>> Click here to view more photos from the 2015 show!


You don’t need to travel far to be inspired this spring. At the All-City Art Show, set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, May 13, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Marion High School’s F. Ritchie Walton Performing Arts Center, creative works from students of all ages will be on display, and visitors will have the chance to participate in several interactive art activities, including:
  • Pottery wheels: Art students will help guide visitors through the experience of experience working with clay.
  • Keith Haring mural: Visitors will help create a piece of pop art in the style of the New York street artist, to be put on display at Frances Slocum Elementary next year.
  • 3D wood sculpture: Visitors will be able to construct sculptures, using American abstract expressionist David Smith’s work as inspiration.
  • String art: Visitors will help create a piece of art as part of an interactive sign-in process.
In addition to the art display and interactive activities listed above, on Saturday visitors will also have the chance to hear performances from several MCS music ensembles, scheduled as follows:
  • 11 a.m.: Marion High School jazz band
  • Noon: McCulloch Junior High jazz band
  • 1 p.m.: McCulloch Junior High jazz choir
  • 2 p.m.: McCulloch Junior High honors choir
  • 3 p.m.: Justice Intermediate School band teachers Kelly Bare and Wayne Garret will perform
  • 4 p.m.: MCS elementary recorder ensemble, led by music teacher Erika Pappas
Art awards for all ages will be announced at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Marion Community Schools’ art programs have consistently offered students outstanding opportunities, and in the last few years several students have had their works chosen for regional, state, and even national competitions, including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony in Color awards and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Our art programs culminate with a wide array of courses at Marion High School, including drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and more.

At the All-City Art Show, visitors will get the chance to see creativity in action — and take some inspiration home with them, too. There will be a silent auction fundraiser of art items created or donated by MCS art teachers.

YOU'RE INVITED: Kindness Rally features carnival, dinner, awards, and more!

Posted on Apr. 26 2016 by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Coming up on Friday, April 29: The fourth annual Marion Community Schools Kindness Rally will celebrate the power that kindness has to change our schools, our community, and the world! This event is open to the entire community, and we hope YOU will join us!



A scene from the 2015 Kindness Rally. 

Highlights will include the Chain Reaction Ceremony; the annual Student Kindness Awards and (new this year) the Staff Kindness Awards; the Kindness Chain Parade (where representatives from each school march in with paper chains, with each link representing an act of kindness noticed throughout the school year); a chicken noodle dinner; and a carnival with bounce houses, photo booth, food, and more!

The Kindness Rally is set for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 29, 2016, at the Marion High School gym. Tickets to be used for the carnival attractions will be four for $1, and proceeds will fund continuing anti-bullying efforts throughout the school system.

Chicken noodle dinners will be available, including mashed potatoes, green beans, a roll, a drink, and a cookie, for just $4!

The Chain Reaction Ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:15 p.m.) The ceremony will feature:
  • MHS JROTC presenting the flag.
  • Performances by the MHS and McCulloch Junior High School choirs.
  • Presentation of Student Kindness Awards, which honor one student from each school who embodies the spirit and kindness and who consistently exhibits it to those around them.
  • Presentation of Staff Kindness Awards (new this year), which honor one staff member from each school who embodies the spirit of kindness and who consistently exhibits it to those around them.
  • Messages from district administrators.
  • The Kindness Chain Parade.
The carnival will begin immediately after the ceremony.

MCS is also especially grateful for the support of our community, specifically a grant from the Community Foundation of Grant County that helped fund this year’s Kindness Rally, along with a donation of baked goods from Café Valley for our cake walk.

The Kindness Rally is a culmination of the focus we have year-round of intentionally encouraging our students to think about kindness and the impact it has on those around them at school and in the community. Lessons are facilitated by our school social workers and counselors, utilizing materials from Rachel’s Challenge and often partnering with organizations such as Family Services and Grant-Blackford Mental Health. This is right in line with the Community Foundation Youth Grant program that promotes philanthropy, which includes the idea of promoting the welfare of others.

We like to emphasize that it doesn’t cost anything to start a chain reaction of kindness, because it’s important to empower children to do good and make a difference even if they face struggles themselves, but these classroom-based efforts often do result in volunteer time or monetary donations to good causes, with ideas often coming directly from the students themselves.

Some specific examples from this school year include:

• Kendall Elementary School’s Kindness Kids Club, which has done two community service projects this school year, including a book drive and a visit to Lutheran Children’s Hospital in Fort Wayne to deliver the books and spend time reading and doing crafts with some of the patients, along with a visit to a local nursing home to deliver cards and care packages.
• Justice Intermediate School’s Kiss the Pig fundraiser challenge which brought in $900 for the Marion Community Schools Champions Together program, a partnership between the IHSAA and Special Olympics.
• Justice Intermediate’s faculty/friends vs. students basketball challenge, which raised money and gathered food donations and household items to help Justice families in need over the summer.
• Justice Intermediate’s food drive for The Salvation Army’s local food pantry.
• Marion High School’s food drive for St. Martin Community Center.
• Tucker Career and Technology Center culinary arts program’s work with local organizations for fundraiser food sales (such as cheese balls for Psi Iota Xi and apple dumplings for Kiwanis), as well as catering for meetings within the school system and in the community as well.
• TCTC’s welding program’s work on small projects throughout the community.

The idea of helping meet a need is the foundation of philanthropy, and students who learn to think of others and the impact their own actions can have on the world around them are set for a lifetime of giving in many forms.

All schools participate in the creation of the Kindness Chains throughout the year, but each school also has various other ways of recognizing and encouraging students and staff who display kindness and have an impact on others. At some schools, this includes cards or other rewards given for specific acts of kindness. At others, it involves recognition in a bulletin board display. The Student Kindness Awards are a natural outgrowth of this recognition process. One student from each building is selected by their administrators. We believe that simple acts of kindness have the power to change our classrooms, our schools, our community, and the world. Because of that, we truly believe the Student Kindness Awards are some of the highest honors we can bestow.

Marion Community Schools is proud of our students and staff who are starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion and making positive changes in our schools and community. We hope that students of all ages and their families, along with community members, will come and help us celebrate at the third annual Kindness Rally!