In response to negativity and fear after a threat of violence recently at Minooka Junior High School, eight eighth-grade girls decided to give their peers encouragement one sticky note at a time.
During the week of Feb. 26, friends from MJHS met up and wrote inspirational quotes they found online on 1,000 sticky notes in order to place them around the school to encourage students, teachers and staff alike. Students said they knew there was fear at school after the alleged threats and that students have been bullied at school. They wanted to show that positivity can happen when students come together for the common good.
Sarah Beitler, mother of student Hannah Beitler, said she saw something similar on the news about a school in Bolingbrook and wondered if this could be done at her daughter’s school in Minooka.
“I thought this was a cute idea and when I got home from work one day, I asked Hannah if we should do this and include her friends. She thought it was a great idea.”
Sarah Beitler said she first contacted the social worker Anne Kowal and administration in order to receive permission to place the notes in the school. When she received a response, the school was 100 percent behind it and her daughter got on her phone and began to contact her group of friends.
Hannah and fellow students Makayla Anderson, Audrey Boles, Ella Carroll, Grace Gierich, Allison Lucero, Samy Oleksyn and Katie Tropp all took on the task to improve school spirit.
On Feb. 27, the group ordered pizza and looked up positive and inspirational quotes and finished 650 notes the first night in a three-hour period. The girls said there were a few repeated quotes, but most of the notes were unique.
The group finished the final 350 during the week and then went to the school on March 3 for two hours during Saturday school. They placed a note on each locker, as well as on classroom doors and windows around the school.
“I just hope the notes make someone’s day and maybe give them motivation to go to school,” Katie said.
Hannah said she did not want people to know who placed the notes and it was fun to listen to her peers try to guess on Monday morning when school was in session. The girls had “Choose Kind” shirts made and wore them on Monday, but for most, it was not a giveaway.
“We just wanted to see everybody smile. I saw some people take their note off of the front of their locker and put it on the inside to keep,” Hannah said.
Allison said she heard another student say, “Now I can have something to smile about.”
MJHS student Taylor Simios said when she walked into school she said the notes made the school look better.
“I thought it was cool that the girls did that and that everyone had a different quote,” Taylor said. “It made the school look better and fun. It’s pretty important that they did something for the students and it took students to do it.”
Audrey said she also had a teacher ask about her shirt and when she explained the shirt and the act of kindness, the teacher thanked Audrey and the other girls for what they did for the students and teachers.
The girls did say that some students took the notes and threw them to the floor and they were prepared for negative feedback, but despite that, the hard work was well worth it.
“This is our last year at the junior high and we might as well leave a mark. We felt like we could make a difference at our school and if we could make one person smile or think in an opposite way or direction, not negative, that would make us happy,” Hannah said.
Audrey’s mother, Rachel Boles, said, “With all of the negativity going on, this put something positive into the schools and into Minooka.”
Tiffany Tropp, mother of Katie, felt as though this experience was designed to shape her child as well as the other girls and prepare them for the future.
“We were happy to be a part of it with our daughters. They are fine young girls, this was great to be a part of and it can teach them to be strong women in the future,” Tiffany Tropp said.