Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up. —Jesse Jackson
Kindness is a renewable resource. It is something that we all have endless supplies of to give.
The way we treat each other, animals and even our planet speaks to who we are as human beings. Kindness is caring about other people and things even when they might not care about you. This is kindness.
Students from a wide variety of subject areas, whether it was a Writer’s Craft class or a Visual and/or Media Arts class, teachers and education workers are using the Student Achievement Awards, in honour of Marion Drysdale, as an essential tool in classrooms to engage all students. This year, our creative artists, whether in visual or digital/media arts opened up about what kindness meant to them and how kindness pays forward from person to person.
The nine award winners will be officially announced at the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Assembly (AMPA) during a virtual ceremony featuring the traditional video where the students will be each presented with awards of $1000. For a sneak peek at the provincial winners, please read below.
In the Prose and Poetry Division, Taylor Erb, of Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School in New Hamburg, was the winner of the Intermediate, 9–10 Academic category, with an incredibly touching story called The One Who Paints Rocks. This story poignantly shares a story of the kindness of strangers who give a young man inspiration through painted rocks when he is feeling as though he is unable to go on. The strength he gained from the kindness rocks is paid forward to others who are struggling as he was.
Mokshita Hurday of Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton claimed the Intermediate, 9–10 Applied/Essential with her beautifully written essay entitled The Hidden Kindness. Mokshita shares with us that kindness does not only occur between people but also can happen between humans and nature. Mokshita’s kindness comes in the form of nurturing and caring for her beautiful garden tomatoes. From seeds to seedlings to plants to full and ripe tomatoes ready to be eaten, she demonstrates the tender care involved in cultivating tomatoes. The tomatoes reciprocate her kindness by being delicious and feeding her family.
Avery Murrell, a student at Innisdale Secondary School in Barrie, won in the Senior 11–12 University category for her skillfully written short story called A Rose of a Rose. Inspired by a young woman’s kindness towards others, Avery shares how while on a simple errand, an elderly woman named Rose asks the young woman for help picking up her groceries during the pandemic. Shopping for the woman is quick and while picking up her groceries, the young woman decides that she will also brighten Rose’s day with a flower. Avery’s clever story proves that it is not only easy to be kind, but it is also essential in making all of us blossom as humans.
In the 11–12 College/Workplace category, Brai-Lynn Bananish, of Geraldton Composite High School in Geraldton, writes her prose, Deep Loyal Kindness, about humankind abusing and poisoning our Mother Earth. Brai-Lynn cannot understand how we, as intelligent beings, know the earth is suffering and dying and yet we continue to pollute and destroy our natural surroundings. Mother Earth is forgiving and kind and humans take advantage of her kindness. The prose ends on a hopeful note, wishing that we could see how our ‘Mother’ has provided for us and change our ways before it is too late.
Émilie Denis-Plante, of École secondaire catholique l’Horizon in Val Caron, won the category of French Prose and Poetry 9–10, for her poem, La bonté, qu’est-ce que c’est ?—What is Kindness? Émilie tries to define what kindness is in a poetic way through multiple examples. She writes that kindness is important, particularly when someone is struggling. Even if you struggle, you can be there for a friend. You can look beyond the faults of others and lift them up. You can be grateful for friendship and for those who share their kindness as you have shared yours.
In the category of French Prose and Poetry 11–12, the winner, Lauren Altomare from Northern Secondary School in Toronto moved us with her exquisitely written poem Le piano Place-des-Arts—The piano of the Place-des-Arts. The piece focuses on a man who stands in the subway station watching sombre people go by with their worries and thoughts. This poem, which reads almost like a song reminds us that a single positive act can have an immense ripple effect, like the spark of joy that transforms the sombre faces on their busy commute who then spread the joy wherever they go.
Hammarskjold High School in Thunder Bay is home to Aimee Wang, whose beautifully painted art piece Flying Dandelion left judges speechless. Her piece, which is the winner of the Visual, Intermediate, 9–10 category, displays exquisite use of light, shading and detail accurately portrays her interpretation of kindness in the form of a dandelion. Kindness is like a dandelion seed, which floats from one flower and lands in hundreds of different fields only to propagate a new flower. As it is with sharing kindness. If one person shares kindness, like a seed, it can propagate kindness in many other places for many other people.
Maeve Brennagh, from Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph School, amazed us with her incredibly creative interactive sculpture. Her piece, This Square is a Circle is the winner of the Visual, Senior 11–12 category. Maeve created a circle of kindness in an inventive way utilizing onion peels, homemade rice paper stitched onto cotton inside a box. The extraordinary idea took us on a journey of giving from growing vegetables, to preparing meals for those during the pandemic and boxing and delivering those meals. The sculpture is contained in one cardboard box that from the outside looked humble and ordinary, but on the inside is a well crafted and designed sculpture created to inspire us. View this piece here.
Finally, the winner of the Media, 9–12 French or English category was Sarah Simionescu, of Eden High School in St. Catharines, for her clever film #sharekindness. The film uses a QR code to ask “will you share kindness?” Everyone who clicks yes and shares receives a return on their investment by having kindness returned to them. Eventually, the kindness shared spreads all over the world benefitting not only the person receiving the kindness but also the person who gave it. View this piece here.