By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Students at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School were recently awarded a grant to create a program to inspire peers to be more self-aware and spread kindness. Deborah Harper, Bill May and Dennis Whitney, design and visual communications teachers at Assabet, applied for a mini-grant from the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce to fund the project.
The idea for the project came after Harper’s adult son, an entrepreneur, was invited into the classroom on several occasions. He emphasized the notion that the students have the power to curate their image on social media, much like a portfolio museum.
“Instead of conveying what not to do, he gave suggestions of how each student could create their reflection,” Harper said.
“The objective of the project was to create a campaign that builds awareness of one’s personal responsibilities in building a more kind and compassionate environment through team building, storyboarding, research, writing and reflecting, concept development and more,” she added.
Sophomores and juniors in design and visual communications undertook the project. The junior class presented their ideas to the administrative team: Superintendent Earnest Houle,
assistant principals Jerry Gahagian and Patrick O’Rourke. The sophomores will receive a grade for their work as a class project and will present their ideas to the administration and apply for a similar grant next year.
Three concepts were presented this year: “Dump the Label,” a trash can to hold negative labels; “Branch Out Above Bullying,” cards, quotes and posters created during lunch; and the Good Vibe Tribe, a movement of peace and understanding.
The latter was deemed the idea with the most potential, Harper said. The grant money will be used for materials for t-shirts, buttons and stickers that the students will create using a logo that they have developed. They were also required to develop social media and a public service video.
“I believe it is really important to make everyone feel as though they belong and that they matter,” explained junior Holly Van Wie, a project manager of the Good Vibe Tribe. “Everyone chooses sides when there is conflict. We came up with this idea in order to head off bad feelings that can cause people to take their moods and opinions out on others.
Everyone benefits from good vibes!”
According to Harper, the driving force of this project is to have the students think about how to create a better environment by having a positive attitude and by saying and doing good things.
“I am with these students for 1,600 hours during the course of their education,” Harper noted. “I have a social responsibility to help them become good citizens. They are doing great things and I am confident that they are well on their way.”
“Above all, The Good Vibe Tribe has enlightened me to the fact that showing even the smallest bit of kindness can positively affect them in such a significant way,” said junior and project manager John Russel. “I truly believe that this campaign has brought out the best in all of us.”