BOTKINS — Love isn’t the only thing in the air at Botkins Local Schools this February. A group of students is hoping to fill the halls with kindness and encouragement for their fellow students.
“Spread the Love” is an initiative the Botkins Leadership team came up with in an effort to be inclusive to all students at Botkins, no matter who they are or what they’re involved in. It all started with the idea of leaving motivational messages in school bathrooms — a quote above bathroom mirrors encouraging students to keep their head up — and quickly expanded to writing positive messages, quotes, and pick-up lines on sticky notes that will be hanging in the cafeteria throughout February. Students are encouraged to pick the messages off the wall and leave them for someone to read, whether it be stuck inside a bathroom stall, to a locker, or snuck inside a book.
“We kind of morphed it into this, where we can just do it where anyone can take sticky notes that we already have pre-made so that it’s easy, and they can put them anywhere, and there’s a variety of things,” junior Sydney Steinke said. “If you take that and give it to someone, they see that and think, ‘oh, somebody’s thinking of me’ and I just think it’s something special that encourages people.”
The added encouragement is the fact that the sticky notes are anonymous. Unless someone sees a student leaving behind a note, there’s no way of knowing who did it. Most of the students feel this makes the whole thing that much more special; the idea that you don’t realize it, but the people around you know when you need a proverbial pat on the back, and they want to give that to you.
“It makes you think, I wonder who was thinking of me? Who was picking up the vibe that I was having a bad day, or needed a note?,” Intervention Specialist Ashleigh Ratermann said.
Ratermann co-runs the leadership team with Laura Mack, who teaches science at the high school level. For Ratermann, something that strengthens the initiative is the mixture of girls and boys within the leadership team, adding variety and sincerity to the messages on the sticky notes.
“Girls have a different viewpoint, and different feelings — and then you have the boys who are talking about quotes for the bathroom, and they want to put something on the mirror that says something like, ‘you lift weights, bro?’ And I think that’s good, because that’s something that would trigger them to smile,” Ratermann said. “They’re just trying to make it fit for everyone.”
The biggest goal for the leadership team is to make every student feel seen, and that they aren’t alone.
“I put stuff like, ‘you are loved’ and ‘you are not alone’ just so that everyone knows that, if they’re going through anything, they can come to any of us and talk through their problems, just so they don’t feel alone. There are people here trying to help them, and help them get through what they’re going through,” senior Alex Bajwa said.
“That’s important with such a small school, because we are close. As a junior, I feel like I could talk to most of the seniors if I had issues, and I think that’s good. I think, even if you’re a new kid, you should realize that’s the mentality we all have. If you need help, you can go to anyone, and we should be able to help you,” Steinke said.