Neary students transform Sticks & Stones into Hope & Kindness

by beth on May 25, 2018

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Above: Southborough students paint “Hope Sticks” and plant “Kindness Rocks”. (photo left contributed, right cropped from Facebook)

Neary School’s motto this year has been “#Choose Kind”. It’s a theme that has made its way into the Art Room this spring.

Art Teacher Denise Johnson shared news and images of two big projects this spring involving Southborough’s 4th and 5th grade students. Both are being used to extend the school’s positive message beyond its doors.

I’ve included contributed pictures with each story below. (Click on thumbnails to enlarge and for captions.)

Kindness Rocks

Neary Students Sprinkle Kindness Around Town
Recently, children in fourth and fifth grade at the Neary School painted “Kindness Rocks”. Kindness Rocks are simply stones painted with inspiring or kind messages. The stones are then placed in public areas for others to enjoy. If you come across a Kindness Rock, you may take it or share it with a friend who could use a bit of inspiration. Often times, people then pay it forward by painting a stone or two and placing them outside for others to find.

The Kindness Rocks Project began a few years ago on Cape Cod and is now quite a world-wide movement. [You can learn more about the movement here.]

This art project was inspired by our school’s One School, One Read book, “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. All 263 Neary students took part in our One School, One Read and there were various school-wide projects and events that connected to this story’s message of acceptance and inclusion. Art teacher, Denise Johnson thought the Kindness Rocks Project tied in nicely with the school’s motto to “Choose Kind”. First, students were asked to collect smooth stones, then parent volunteers spray painted the stones, and then (the fun began!) students and teachers painted kind and inspiring messages on the stones.

Some stones were delivered to the Southborough Public Library and the Southborough Senior Center by Girl Scout Troop 68062 led by Kristen McCarthy and Sara Stein. Other rocks were shared with the Southborough Food Pantry. And, lastly, students in Mrs. Soldo’s fifth grade class delivered some to the school district’s central office and to the Neary School entrance. Spreading kindness truly feels wonderful and, more importantly, students and teachers alike have heard back from people who have felt touched and inspired by our small act of kindness.

Kindness Rocks painted by Neary Students Neary students position rocks outside for display Kindness Rock display outside of Neary Anna McCarthy, Joely Stewart, Maya Regan, Scarlett Gobron, and Maddy Wall deliver Kindness Rocks to the Southborough Library and Senior Center

Hope Sticks

Neary Hope Sticks
Neary School Art Teacher, Denise Johnson, submitted a proposal to the juried Art on the Trails exhibit titled “Hope Sticks”. In preparation for creating their own Hope Sticks, students then learned about Tibetan Prayer Flags and American Indian beliefs around Medicine or Spirit Sticks. They learned how color often played a symbolic role in these belief systems. We all have hopes–hopes for a family member, a group of people, or the environment. Inspired by their own hopes and the Tibetan and American Indian belief systems, each student painted a branch.

During the beginning of May, Neary students found out that their submission had been accepted. Now it’s time to prepare the 263+ painted branch for their Hope Sticks art installation!

Hope Sticks will be on display from June 13 through September 23, 2018 at the Beals Preserve. This year’s Art on the Trail theme is “Unexpected Gestures”. Mrs. Johnson and her students hope that their colorful, collaborative Hope Sticks installation will catch people walking the trails in a pleasantly unexpected way!

The easiest way to access the art installation is by entering the Red Gate trail head. As you near the pond on your right, go left onto Lone Wolf trail.

We hope you can join us at the Opening Reception on June 13 from 6-8pm!

Neary students ( Abbe Or, Therese Moore, Rosey Gebauer, and Scott Cronin from Mrs. Martinez's 4th grade class) paint "Hope Sticks" Hope Sticks painted by Neary students Sketch of planned Hope Sticks exhibit installation for Art on the Trails

1 Catherine Weber May 28, 2018 at 4:04 PM

We are so excited to have Hope Sticks at Beals. Also, don’t forget that many of these same children are participating in the Fairy and Gnome Village at Beals this summer as well.

Catherine Weber, Program Director, Art on the Trails

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