The name of the Kindness Rocks program pretty much says it all. Students are placing rocks that they, and other Brooksians, have painted throughout campus in an effort to spread positivity in our community.
The initiative began just a few weeks into the new school year when Dean of Teaching and Learning Mary Jo Carabatsos P'17, P'20 spotted the slew of stones in the construction sites around campus and recalled a program that she'd seen in which artists turned blank rocks into artistic, inspiring messages.
Click to read about the construction of our new Center for the Arts and take a virtual tour of the $28 million facility slated to be finished in 2018.
Carabatsos proposed offering a Kindness Rocks painting party in the student center, and on September 13 about a dozen students gathered to beautify stones retrieved from the soil piles on campus with rainbow colors and kind words. "It is a very small thing that can lift our spirits," said the teacher. "And it gives kids a purpose and fun activity on a Saturday night – win-win!"
The idea is that once the painted rocks dry, students can scatter them around campus to inspire in place, or be picked up, carried and placed elsewhere. "What you do with the rock is up to you," Carabatsos shared in an email to the community. "If you feel you need a little pick-me-up, feel free to grab the rock and keep it, or move it to another location. Many of them have sayings and pictures that may be just the encouragement you need at the moment. If you want to hang onto the rock for a while, and place it somewhere else later, that is great too! There are no rules. We just want everyone to enjoy them."
History teacher Amanda Nasser's Self in Community (SIC) class got into the act on September 29, both by sharing the joy and receiving it. The third-formers divvied up about 40 of the painted stones to distribute and set off together to place them outside. "It's a good way for the third-form to feel part of our community," said Nasser. "And it's a great activity that we can do together."
The students agreed. "This is a fun activity to do with your friends," said Ryan Gaffney '21. "It's a good bonding exercise."
Patrick Scott '21, who dubbed one of the stones painted with the "Let it go" slogan "dope," added that, "It shows friendship and unity."
Emma Houlihan '21, for her part, enjoyed participating in the program because of the impact it makes on campus. "It's unique," she said. "And when I see one of the rocks, it makes me smile." Houlihan placed one of the stones she'd chosen within the stone wall outside of the library because, "I hope that people walking by can easily see it."
The Kindness Rocks project dovetails nicely with another feel-good initiative on campus: anonymous post-it notes that a group identified as "@joyatbrooks" has been pinning up in public spaces. Similar to Kindness Rocks, the notes — including "You Matter" and "You Can Do It!" — aim to inspire.
"Like the notes, I think Kindness Rocks is a really cute idea," said Emma Fleischman '21. "They both make me feel better seeing them around."
And it's not just new Brooks students who are touched by the program. Sixth-former Hannah Maver, who painted some pieces, has been encouraged by it too. "I absolutely love the Kindness Rocks project," she said. "Not only does it allow students who don't take a visual art class to do some art, but it also genuinely brings me joy whenever I see the rocks around campus. Whether they have uplifting messages or just colorful designs, spotting the stones amidst construction gear, in the gardens, or near buildings is almost like an Easter egg hunt — of happiness! I am so glad that this activity was introduced to the Brooks community, and can't wait to take part in it again."
More rock painting activity nights may be in the future, according to Carabatsos, who hopes that in time everyone will see Kindness Rocks all over campus. "One never knows, after all, when a small act of kindness could make a difference in someone's day," she said.
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