BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Students at Biloxi Upper Elementary are getting a special lesson this week, but it doesn't involve numbers or letters. Instead, the students are learning how to be kind to others.
The school launched the Great Kindness Challenge on Thursday. It's a national initiative to prevent bullying and improve student engagement. Fifth and sixth graders at Biloxi Upper Elementary are focusing on being helpful and nice to one another.
Principal Kelleigh Reynolds said learning kindness is something that will not only help the students today but later in life.
"Students have to function in society and as part of such they need skills that will afford them the opportunity to be successful in life," said Reynolds. "You will be challenged to perform as many kind acts as you can over the course of one week."
Reynolds said the students are at a transitional age and are still impressionable. She believes the challenge will stick.
"Learning how to cultivate kindness and reaching out to others and doing nice things is a very important part of what our students need to be participating in their daily lives," she added.
"What I'm hoping is that when students come to school next week that they are welcoming one another and giving high fives and saying positive words," said Cagney Weaver, who is a fifth and sixth grade create teacher for the gifted and talented.
"Smile at 25 people in front of you, behind you and beside you," said one student to an auditorium full of students at Biloxi Upper Elementary.
This massive team effort of kindness is already something the students are looking forward to.
"It makes me feel good that someone that I don't meet that often can address me," said student Vincenzo Vizzini.
"I think it's a very great challenge because it pushes people to be a better person and be very kind to people," said student Jianna Ortiz.
The challenge may only last a week but school administrators said it's something they're students are reminded to do already each day.
Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich issued a proclamation for next week, designating it as the Great Kindness Challenge Week.
Students were given a checklist of kind acts. If they complete the challenge, they will get to put their hand print on a banner. Parents are encouraged to support students in the challenge.