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'Show the Love' rally kicks off month of kindness at Harvest Elementary

Delano Union School District’s Harvest Elementary School set the world ablaze with kindness with activities centered around this topic during February.

It kicked off with a “Show the Love” rally through Zoom on Friday, Feb. 5, with about 200 students taking part (and was repeated throughout the following week in classrooms to allow all students to see the rally).

Principal Janice Vargas and Vice Principal Ian Tablit have worked with staff to help keep the educational experience for students as normal as possible at Harvest with schools almost reaching the one-year mark of the start of distance learning. Activities so far this school year have included a tribute on Sept. 11 and Just Say No to Drugs and Alcohol week.

“We have a spirit of kindness and culture at Harvest,” Tablit said. “Distance learning won’t stop our efforts.”

Activities at Harvest expand the Great Kindness Challenge Week held the last week of January by the California Department of Education. But instead of limiting activities to a week, Vargas, Tablit and their staff developed activities throughout February that expanded from personal kindness, to expressing appreciation to friends and family members, to thanking the community for their acts of kindness.

DUSD Superintendent Rosalina Rivera kicked off the “Show the Love” rally with words on kindness to the students, followed by a message from Principal Vargas.

“It is important to have a caring heart,” Rivera said. “I care about all of you.”

Vargas stated Harvest Bears are kind, strong and so smart.

“Please empower others to be better people,” she said. “Your smile can lift someone’s spirits.”

Harvest Associated Student Body adviser and fourth-grade teacher Sarah Irby worked with ASB officers to help put together the month’s activities.

The week of Feb. 8-11 was Speak Kind Words Week. Irby and Tablit showed the video for “Gold” by Britt Nicole, which stresses that everyone to themselves is worth more than gold, and their kind words will help others prosper. Harvest physical education teacher Justin Ingram will also work with students to create Kindness Shoutouts using the Flipgrid program.

Activities included a poster contest, a Go Out, Shine Your Light cheer that students will record with their families for the school’s Facebook page. Students also saw a presentation from actor Lyon Daniels, who plays Noodles in the Netflix movie “We Can be Heroes.”

Feb. 15-19 was Show Acts of Kindness Week. It included National Acts of Kindness Day on Feb. 17 and a Mars landing on Feb. 19 (help with the presentation coming from second-grade teacher Roberta Parnell).

This past week, Feb. 22-26, was Spread Kindness through the Community Week. Students were encouraged to write letters to people in care facilities and to essential workers to spread kindness and to thank the workers for their assistance with the control of COVID-19 in the community. ASB officers created a video that demonstrates kindness to Harvest’s teachers, parents and essential workers, and to encourage their fellow students to also pass along kind thoughts.

Dress-up days during the week included Superhero Day, Tie and Bows Day, Hat Day, Jersey Day and Pajama Jammy Jam (which will include Zooms by grade level groups for a dance party). All students and staff activities culminated on Friday with a virtual field trip to Yosemite National Park. Photos of each week’s activities will be submitted for publication.

Other presentations during the Zoom rally included the song “Count on Me” by ASB officer Kason Abair and his aunt Lydia Cruzan and the performance of “The Greatest Love of All” by Chanel Jackson. All performances helped encourage the kindness theme, which will build into the culture of Harvest.

“Please be the light in the world,” Irby said. “Words have such great power.”

Mike Bledsoe is the director of child development services/transitional kindergarten at the Delano Union School District.