“It’s a mild, dreary February day in southeast Kentucky. There’s been a steady stream of dreary days and a few days of emergency cancellations due to extreme flooding. High water, carrying along with widespread flu and other illness, has made a damp winter for all. Traditionally, there’s a large snow in February along the rural Appalachian region that brings the excitement of snowballs, sleddin’, ATV riding, hot chocolate, and snow cream, but this version of winter has been…odd…and disappointing.
Strange weather and illness have caused a difficult flow in the classroom, as teachers try to prep for the coming standardized tests and a long-awaited Spring Break. Our small high school, situated in the heart of coal-country America, is diligently working to overcome the distraction of missed days. Much like other high schools, but also very different, the majority of faculty and staff are strong-willed locals that decided to stay to make a positive impact, others are compassionate folks from far away that came to make a difference. They work hard. They care. They are good, loving people. They understand the need, as many of our students come from low-income households or a ‘tough situation’ in general.
Our students, though often faced with difficult circumstance, never cease to amaze. They too, can be hard-working, caring, and good. The National Honor Society performs countless acts of kindness every school year, providing for those in need. We host the most amazing Veteran’s Ceremony every year. Some of our sports team’s volunteer at local churches and service functions. Our JRTOC, drama performances, band, all amazing and the list goes on. Today, despite the gray rainy day in February, it’s about one special student set to spread positivity. One student with the intuition and bravery to perform a bright act of kindness.
In U.S. History, we’ve been studying World War II. Super interesting content: epic bravery, ultimate betrayal, characters with huge personality, controversial war tactics, etc. It is no surprise that one (the one) 3rd period student has been amazingly engaged. It makes for a great class. The guy is awesome. We’ve had huge political debates in class this year (we keep it friendly), and my man always has some awesome, intelligent input. This day, he went above and beyond the realm of awesome.
It is WWII exam day, 50 multiple choice questions, 100 points. Students had played an interactive review game the day before, playing along on an app in attempt to score points by answering questions concerning the exam content. Of course, he killed it, earning him 5 bonus points for the WWII exam. Exams are distributed, students read and bubble, time passes, students begin to turn in their tests. The one student hands me his answer sheet and turns to walk to his desk. As he walks away, I notice an asterisked note across the page, another February oddity.
It reads, ‘If you could, can you give my bonus points to whoever scores the lowest?’ Wait, what? Immediately I think, ‘Wow, never seen that one before.’ So many questions rush in. ‘This guy wants to give away his bonus points? To ANY peer? Not even to a friend or specified person of special interest? He doesn’t even care about what situation may have caused them to score low? How does he know that he doesn’t need them? Most honor students cling to every point possible! How can he be willing to give up his earning?!’
My only conclusion: true compassion, kindness, and love. This young man gets it, AMAZING! All assessments are gathered, graded. This one, a solid 94%. Yes, plenty of room for an extra 5 points, if he had elected to use them for himself. Call it confident in his ability, not really caring about what he scored, or just crazy! The guy wanted to help someone! Whoever needed it the most. And so, he did. No doubt a peculiar situation, but the points are his and he wishes to kindly gift them to someone else. Honored and granted!
Another student scores a 58% (and needs a 60% to pass). Boom, now a 63%. She was grateful for the mystery points and I pray she pays it forward. As is the ultimate lesson on the day. Ah, other questions to mind. ‘Correct classroom procedure?’ I’m not sure. ‘Is being led by compassion, kindness, and love, ever considered a wrong answer?’
Oddly enough, the student has taught the lesson. During this dreary February day in small town K.Y., may we pour out love and learn to PAY IT FORWARD without circumstance. Be brave and selfless, give your bonus points away. This note gave me so much hope. Let us all be a little more like this young man!”
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