The following article was contributed by the president of Wilton SEPTA, the Special Education PTA, following the “Dress Like a Bee” day at Miller-Driscoll and Cider Mill schools on Friday, April 5.
April is diversity and inclusion awareness month and this is our 4th year of running the “Dress Like a Bee” campaign in Miller-Driscoll School and the first year for Cider Mill School! We started this several years ago as part of the Parent Advisory Board’s Disability Awareness Campaign. With the formation of Wilton SEPTA, we felt strongly that we should continue to expand and broaden this campaign to include all diverse learners.
We are trying raise awareness and education to create a culture of kindness. Kindness should be something that is automatic and part of every day! Each year the campaign gets bigger and better–this year we had over 50 submission from families whose children in Pre-K through 5th Grade submitted pictures of their students dressed like a bee.
It is the hope that by bringing awareness and actually teaching students skills on how to develop understanding, respect and appreciation for differences, friendship and compassion that these lessons and skills will translate into action in day-to-day life. This is why we don’t “Dress Like a Bee” just for fun–we incorporate the education piece too, by mindfully selecting a book to base the Wilton High School Top Inclusion Model performances off of to discuss and teach about diversity, inclusion, and kindness. Students learn that kindness is the right thing to do and how to do it. It all ties together in hopes that Wilton Bees will begin to pollinate more kindness every day!
There were so many heartwarming stories and quotes about what it means to be kind submitted by the students Pre-K through 5th grade this year. If I had to personally select one that stood out for me, it would be from Callie Friedman from Mrs. Packard’s 1st grade class, who said, “By treating others the way you want to be treated. And if you see someone playing by themselves, ask them to play with you, even if you don’t know them. And you never know, they might become your friend.” This thought came from the same student also offered her bee wings to a classmate who was upset after forgetting to dress up like a bee.
Special thanks to Wilton Public Schools, GOOD Morning Wilton, Scoops, and The Savannah Bee store in Westport for supporting this important campaign; our local SEPTA “Kindness Captain” parents Rosalie Witt, Michelle Krupa, Courtney Boucher, and Christine Genereux, who helped make this campaign a success this year; and our faculty and staff members who got into the spirit and dressed up as well. A very special thank you to Nan Merolla, our theater consultant who brought to life the High School Top Inclusion Model performances again this year.
Each of our Kindness Captains had important observations and comments about the program.
Rosalie Witt: “This is my first year working on the Bee Kind Campaign and it has been a joy to be part of such a positive program in our schools. Seeing all the children and teachers dressed up certainly brought attention to the cause. But, in the words of my second grader who did not want to dress up, ‘You don’t have to dress up to be kind. You can still be kind and not dress like a bee.’ A reminder that respecting each child’s desire to express their thoughts and feelings is what diversity and inclusion awareness month is all about.”
Courtney Boucher: “Being kind is in our DNA, it is what helps connect us to one another and allows us to dig deeper when we feel slighted or less than. It is the little voice inside our head that pushes us to find joy in the company of others and smiles when we find out that what we worry about, love, fear, and hope for is also mirrored in everyone around us. Kindness connects and binds us to one another, it is the glue that fills in our rough edges and makes us human.
Thanks to all that participated and submitted their photos and children’s quotes about what it means to ‘Bee Kind.'”
Christine Genereaux: “The Bee Kind project helps promote the inclusion and diversity of others in positive and concrete way for our youngsters. Not only do the they dress up on Bee Kind Day, they also see a play a few days prior, acted by the high school students who deliver the same message. Reading what Be Kind means to them has been so heartwarming, a practice we should all continue to share as adults.”
Here are the winners of the random drawing”
Evan Brooks, Mrs. DiNoto’s Pre-K 1: “Evan says that being kind means including everyone in play time and being nice to all your friends and even your sister.”
Cooper Wollenhaupt, Mrs. Dec: “You can be kind by meaning well in your actions and treat everyone with kindness.
Ameliia Yerenkova, Ms. Denninger: “Be kind is to share toys and help each other.”
Danushka Machireddy, Ms. Pampillonio: “Never give up your kindness just like the bee, which is kind enough to share its honey with us and still work hard to collect honey all over again.”
Shia Borelli, Ms. Ringelheim: “Being kind means to stand up for those who are being bullied, be nice and treat everyone like a best friend.”
Vivaan Uttamchandani, Ms. Redin: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”