What does it mean to be kind?  We asked all of our students that question on Monday, February 13 at the start of Kindness Week. Kindness, according to some, is an act or way of being that is not meant for personal gain, but for the betterment of another person. 
To kick off Kindness Week the IMS community, parents, students, faculty, staff, and a few local residents viewed one of two showings of a film called, “Finding Kind,” a documentary about two women on a cross-country journey of discovery and education to find some universal truths about girls, unkindness, and growing up. Along the way, the women uncovered more than simply proof that woman can be “vicious” to each other, but identified an epidemic of unkindness spreading throughout our schools, our communities, and our culture.  Many times over, “Finding Kind” showed us just how our female population has been conditioned to compete and attack each other instead of comfort each other in the same way that men form bonds of brotherhood.  The “Finding Kind” movement and the Kind Campaign was born from these two Pepperdine graduates, and we challenged our students and ourselves to “Find Kind” as well.
To look around the room when the lights went up, there were mixed emotions about what we had just seen.  There were tears from some adults, clearly having witnessed events that may have been close to their own experiences. There was confusion among some, wondering how girls could be that mean. Others were eager to pledge not to have it happen at their school, or with their friends.  From the buzz of emotions and conversation, it was clear that both kids and adults were thinking about how to raise their level of  kindness.
Following the afternoon showing, students broke up into their advisory groups to discuss the issues raised in the film. Groups took the time to evaluate the negative impact meanness has on all of us, look closely at “girl-against-girl“ hate crimes, and the discuss differences between boy-against-boy issues.
Many students responded to this self-reflection by submitting a Kind Apology or a Kind Pledge, intended as an opportunity to apologize to someone or to identify a positive step toward spreading more kindness.  Many of the students’ Kind Apologies and Kind Pledges are now displayed on a bulletin board in the main hallway.
Later in the week, the IMS community continued its commitment to “Finding Kind” by practicing the “Pay it Forward” technique of repaying good deeds by doing something kind to someone else. Students and faculty received pink Pay it Forward hearts that they passed on from one person to another in recognition of kind deeds and as a way to propel those kind acts forward to others.

A week later, a group of eighth grade boys participated in a Fireside Talk as a follow-up to the movie “Finding Kind.” The boys discussed their beliefs of how the movie might have been different if it was produced from a boys’ perspective instead of from a female perspective. The boys shared that they do not feel the remark “boys just throw a punch and things are fine” really depicts how boys deal with bullying/teasing. The boys mentioned that boys do have feelings and take bullying/teasing to heart and do not actually get over the occurrences as easily as the film stated. The boys identified appropriate ways they could deal with the types of situations portrayed in the film. The conversation was healthy and productive with all boys equally providing their thoughts and input.

Celebrating the  random acts of kindness in our community and opening up the dialog about how we treat each other was a great way to share the love during the week of Valentine’s Day.