MAYVILLE — Students and staff at Chautauqua Lake Central School performed “Random Acts of Kindness” in a project introduced by student leaders, grades 9 through 12, in the Sources of Strength program. Each of the 32 students performed a good deed and described it in a sentence or two written on an index card. Each student then handed out four blank cards to other high school students, inviting them to participate as well. After the cards were hung on the Christmas tree at the main entrance to the school building, the Sources of Strength leaders challenged students and staff throughout the elementary and secondary schools to perform acts of kindness and add their good deeds to the tree. Dustin Graziano helped a friend who was going through a tough time. Ray Fortney cheered up a young child who was being picked on. Taylor Lane helped a friend when she was depressed. Zach Stahlsmith consoled a friend during following the death of a close family friend. Mariana Mathewson made someone laugh who had not laughed in a long time. Mary Schmitz complimented a fellow student on a decorated locker. Tom Cole took another student’s empty cafeteria tray to the kitchen for washing. When a student dropped books in the hallway, Miranda Williams helped pick them up. School counselor Jessica Cowan and secretary Wanda Latimer went to a student’s house to pick up a change of clothes. Leanna Harp said “Hello” to everyone she saw one day, no matter how uncomfortable it made her feel. Emilee Christie knows “B” days are a challenge for one of her friends, so she texted her friend before school on a “B” day, saying she hoped she had a really nice day — and she did. Several individuals helped neighbors or family members. Kelsie Breads’ neighbor recently moved to a nursing home, so she and her family bought him a small Christmas tree that he could have in his room. Gerry Conrad helped a neighbor stack firewood. Ian Clute helped his grandmother around the house. Before her basketball game, Jenna Einink held the door for an older couple. Kyle Mayer helped a teaching assistant and her husband carry in food for the annual food drive. Ashton Albanesius held the door for an elderly shopper, and teacher Steven Johnston helped an elderly woman carry her groceries. He also helped his father connect a DVD player and speakers to his television. Dylan Shuskie cleaned out his toy box and donated some of his old toys to needy children. Alyssa Fardink helped her little cousin clean his room. Brad Lawson helped his father by cleaning the garage and plowing the driveway with his four-wheeler. Sophia Woodis sharpened pencils for her mother. Anna Gerber got her little sister dressed one morning. Sources of Strength is a comprehensive wellness program which uses peer leaders to change norms around codes of silence and help seeking, building multiple sources of support so when times get hard students have strengths to rely on. The pilot program, developed by the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Rochester, is part of a two-year study to combat bullying and youth suicide in high schools in New York State and in North Dakota. The Sources of Strength advisors at Chautauqua Lake Central School are Steven Johnston and Katrina Freay. Other student organizations coordinated service projects throughout the school and invited the larger community to participate. The National Honor Society “adopted” 15 families, including 45 children, for their annual Christmas Project. Students purchased and wrapped gifts for each child, presenting the family with a box of food to prepare a holiday meal. Members of the junior class collected 50 jackets and 75 gloves, scarves, hats and other warm gear, which were donated to the Salvation Army of Western New York. Peer Educators collected books, which they distributed to children in the Chautauqua Lake community.
Three student leaders from the Sources of Strength program at Chautauqua Lake Central School show some of the “Random Acts Of Kindness” documented on the Christmas tree at Chautauqua Lake Central School. They are Miranda Williams, Charity Ludwig and Rick Hogland.