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Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

December 6, 2001

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Cara Leatherman and Kim Carter are confident planting the good-deed seed at Sunset Hill School will bear fruit.

The third-graders were initiators Wednesday of a new "Giving Tree Project" that celebrates random acts of kindness. The idea is to turn Sunset Hill topsy-turvy with altruism, and for children and adults to affix a dot sticker to paper trees on the walls each time they've performed a benevolent act.

"We're very excited," said Carter.

Leatherman added: "This is so cool."

Indeed, the project was launched during a full-blown, all-school assembly. Principal Chris Bay tipped his hat to the girls and counselor Terry McCord, because the program was an outgrowth of McCord reading a book, "The Goodness Gorillas" by Lisa McCourt to the two students when they were in second grade.

The tale is about a self-appointed group of kindness guerrillas who transform the environment of their classroom, school, family and community by doing people favors.

Carter and Leatherman, both 8 years old, said they had yet to get accustomed to their status as role models.

"It's weird," Carter said. "It's sort of scary that everyone is looking at us."

Too often, Bay told students, negative events received the most attention. And the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast reminded folks of the need to cherish the goodness in people, he said.

Bay said he hoped the self-acknowledgment program would continue indefinitely.

The Rev. Nate Rovenstine of Wesleyan Church, Ninth and Madeline streets, who has a child at Sunset Hill, outlined for students the main themes of "Goodness Gorillas."

He also said a school united behind a common goal could trigger positive change.

"If we practice kind acts not always, most of the time those kind acts are returned," he said.

Single trees scattered throughout the school are reserved for stickers representing acts of kindness that occur in the building. A grove of trees next to the principal's office will serve as repository for stickers honoring good things happening with family in the home.

Sunset Hill staff are interested in constructing something on the school's exterior for community members to record their virtuous behavior, but details haven't been worked out.

Leatherman and Carter spent part of Tuesday distributing envelopes full of dot stickers to fellow students. Both have been concentrating on doing good deeds in preparation for this big day.

"I helped my teacher make copies," said Carter.

"I made my brother's bed," Leatherman said.

"And," she added, "we helped start this, and that's an act of kindness."

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