A boy stops to help another student when his books spill in the hallway. A girl holds the door for a teacher carrying a large box. Students of various backgrounds and races joke and swap stories as they share a lunch table.
These are acts of kindness and acceptance that faculty members and students at any school would like to see. Although other schools may preach kindness and acceptance, Fairmont not only encourages it but also sets aside a day dedicated to promoting kindness and appreciating the diversity of the student body.
This year, HumanKIND Day is on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the Library. About 100 students are expected to participate.
HumanKIND Day is sponsored by a Fairmont organization called Growing Peace, which focuses on peace and tolerance of diversity. Fairmont Principal Dan Von Handorf asked the group to organize the event for the first time last year.
“Growing Peace jumped on board and organized this day,” said Von Handorf. “Students at Fairmont need to learn all the basic cornerstones of academics along with how to be good citizens. HumanKIND Day is the day that we use to celebrate diversity; we try to educate students on the good and positive things about being different. We all have the same desires and needs and goals.”
Senior Neda Azzam, who participated in the first HumanKIND Day last year, enjoyed the experience and explained how Growing Peace Adviser Jessica Kelly organized the day. “All 100 students went to the Library and were divided into groups of five. Then we traveled to different stations that had certain situations or mindsets which people could face or have, such as stereotypes, diversity, abuse and tolerance,” she said. “The coolest station was when you got to be in a room with a couple of other people and just learn about yourself.”
Von Handorf believes one of the most important things for students to learn is how to be at peace with others. “We have kids learning how to be good citizens, and the belief is that Fairmont will be a safer place because of that.”
He hopes the students who participate will help to influence and inspire the greater Fairmont community to be more accepting as well. “If we train about one hundred students, the knowledge of all those students ripples out to the others,” Von Handorf said. He’s optimistic that as the program continues, more students will be influenced each time.
Although no school atmosphere is perfect, many school officials are impressed by the good things that Fairmont students do to help one another. “I see kids doing good things every day,” said Von Handorf. “Hopefully, HumanKIND Day will just encourage more of that.”
Von Handorf said he’s pleased with the program and the results it is having. “HumanKIND day really opens students’ eyes and helps them understand one another,” he said.
Azzam completely agrees and thinks that the whole experience changed her. “It definitely affected me as a person,” she said. “It helped me realize to look at everyone with open eyes and changed my perspective.”