OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee Christian Academy believes in focusing on the positive rather than the negative, so they do not have anti-bullying events. Instead, they hold Kindness Week twice a year.
Principal Melissa King explained they believe if you talk about kindness, kids are more inclined to be kind. They have two Kindness Weeks, one in the fall and one in the spring. On each day during those weeks, they try to do something to benefit the community.
They held the fall Kindness Week during the first week of November. On day one, the theme was, “Kindness should be easy to see.” The kids all wore camouflage and brought in monetary donations for Wreaths Across America. They were able to raise $500 and presented a check to Cpl. Jack Nash of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.
On day two, the theme was, “Be kind through the times.” The students dressed up in clothes from their favorite decade and brought in boxes of cereal for Martha’s House. King said they did a food drive for Martha’s House last year, and someone mentioned kids are often forgotten. They said cereal makes a wonderful donation, because it is an easy breakfast or snack. This year, the students gathered 229 boxes.
On day three, the theme was, “We have a heart for kindness.” The blood mobile came, and the school held a community drive. Teachers, staff, older students and some from the community came in to donate.
On Thursday, the kids got to wear their western attire as they celebrated, “Yeehaw for Kindness!” The donations this time were for Trail of Hope. When Trail of Hope came to pick up the donations, they brought along some dogs and talked to the students about caring for an animal.
On Friday, the theme was, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Students dressed up as tacky tourists and collected peanut butter to help 4H with the drive they were doing. They collected 4,484 ounces of peanut butter and donated it to Big Lake Mission. Afterward, Kona Ice came, and students enjoyed a cool treat.
They will have another Kindness Week in the spring, culminating in a field day. The kids will be separated into four different teams and will wear the color of their team. The idea for the field day is to focus more on kindness toward each other and learning to be a good sport out on the field. They kids move from station to station doing activities like Jump Rope for Heart or basketball or Cross Fit. When the whistle blows, they move to the next station.
The school also has a club called “Star Throwers.” The name comes from the story of the person walking on the beach and seeing what they thought was someone dancing. As he got closer, he saw the girl was actually picking star fish up out of the sand and throwing them back into the water. The man told her she could never save them all, but the girl picked up another one, threw it into the water and replied, “I made a difference for that one.”
The club searches for missions to work on each quarter. The idea is that working together, they can help many. During the first quarter, they concentrated on raising money to help a teacher who was hospitalized for almost two months with covid. During the second quarter, they decided to bless some missionaries who came to the school to speak to the children. The missionaries are now in Uganda, and the kids collected money to help them purchase African study Bibles to distribute in Uganda. In the past, they have done Martha’s House, the Pregnancy Center and many others in the community.
“We want to give back to the community any way we can,” said King.