Jessica Kinkade's first-graders were sprawled on the floor around their classroom at Westside Elementary School, working on posters depicting acts of kindness.
For the recent Bullying Prevention Week, the Hernando County School District focused on promoting kindness. Westside proclaimed all of November Acts of Kindness Month.
In kindergarten through second grade, students celebrated with a coloring contest; there were essay contests for grades 3 to 5. For their essays, students were given prompts.
Grade 5's was "How could I encourage people around me to do more kind things for others?" Fourth-graders finished the phrase "If everyone in the world did at least one kind thing each day ... ." Third-graders wrote: "It is important to do kind things for others because ... ."
The school also had a door-decorating contest and an opportunity to create banners for the front of the school.
The children in Kinkade's class were coming up with solutions to problems using kindness. Cutting in line, for example, could lead to pushing or fighting. Instead, the children suggested telling the teacher, letting the offender cut in line or telling the principal.
Students in Diane Welch's first-grade class made friendship links. They wrote in journals ways to help each other, then wrote them on paper strips and connected them to make a chain.
Said first-grader Madalynn Scott, 7: "It's better to be kind, to like to help people."
She said she had helped a classmate with math.
Classmate Willow Davenport, 6, said she realized the benefits of being kind.
"I think it's nice to be kind because, if you don't, some people could be hurt in their feelings," Willow said.
Fifth-grader Tiara Jackson, 10, said it is important to be kind to others "because if you're not, it can make others feel sad, and if you're not kind to others, no one will really like you."
Classmate Faith Tackett, 10, agreed: "If you bully, you're hurting yourself and other people."
Fourth-graders seemed to view kindness as a way to make the world safer.
"Because less people would get killed," said Luis Heslin, 9.
"That way there's no killing or drugs or anything like that," said James Jackson, 9.
To Darian Reyes, 9, bullying is bad "because it kills a lot of innocent lives. It's just being mean for no reason."
Certified school counselor Katrina Warsick coordinated the kindness contests.
"If we can get each child to be a change agent," Warsick said, "what a wonderful world it would be."