Ilona Farkas ’18
Bethel High School is a place where administrators and parents preach the manifestation of safety and happiness. In light of a recent uptick in offensive acts by students, such as the repeated writing of racial slurs and symbols, however, it has become another place where instances of hate and oppression can crop up: incidents that interfere with the values and morals the school stands for. Despite this, the difference between BHS and other high schools is that here, action is being taken to do something about it. They call it the Kindness Committee.
It’s a club that discusses out in the open, away from the confines of student gossip circles and private group chats, the occurrence and impact of these incidents and what the school, as a unified entity, can do about it. The point the committee is to combat harmful actions and prevent any glossing over of the hate kids can demonstrate to those they see as different.
One of the most remarkable things about the Kindness Committee surprisingly isn’t just its very existence, but its management. New club formation is notorious for having rocky starts, but under the supervision of Ms. Lerz, Bethel’s assistant principal, and Media Specialist Ms. Wismar, half a year’s worth of scheduling and event planning was accomplished throughout the duration of a 45 minute class period.
“We started small but through word of mouth, here we are,” says Ms. Lerz.
One of the a many things the committee pushes for is for its student members to openly contribute their ideas as to how they can make the school a kinder place.
“It’s all about student ownership,” says Ms. Wismar. “The important part is that it’s not the teachers telling you what to do, it’s you saying ‘this is what I think this should be.’”
The type of students that were initially asked to participate is useful to the committee. Student officers were an obvious choice to kick start the club, and although this provides a studious and energetic environment, they are proving to be limited in terms of class demographic diversity
“We want it to be open,” says Ms. Mason. “Anyone who is interested can help.”
Although there may be limits to how many people can join, it was made very clear how inclusive the leaders of the committee want it to be.
The Kindness Committee is just one of the ways Bethel High not just a school but a diverse coexisting community can take steps forward to a more accepting world in a time where even our greatest leaders are notorious for supporting hateful groups. This new committee, soon to be in full swing, will influence heart to heart acceptance, and urge students to make the most of what this kind of atmosphere can accomplish.