“This is our sixth annual ‘Share the Love’ month,” said Peninsula High School’s Dean of Students & ASB Advisor Danielle O’Leary. “During (February) we focus on loving yourself, loving others and loving your school and community.”
I spent a rewarding morning at PHS with a group of students creating and adorning the compliment wall in the commons with “love notes” for Share the Love month. Moving!
“Six years ago, PHS leadership saw importance in focusing on the simple message of love,” said O’Leary. “During ‘Love Others Week’ we organize the compliment wall, an intentional time for students and staff to write compliments to each other. We provide a station at lunch for students to write compliments. Teachers have compliments available in their classes for students to complete and have added this activity to their class time because they see the benefit and impact of the compliment wall.
“We have noticed a significant improvement in our culture at Peninsula over the years. Little actions like writing a compliment or kind words in the hallways go a long way in making people feel they are part of the PHS family,” added O’Leary. “Sharing the Love is a key part of the PHS community. Natalie Pierson started a Kindness Matters Club — where they focus on sharing the love all year long.”
In 2017, there were over 1,500 compliments on the wall. This year, there are well over 2,000 compliments and, as of now, there are still days to go.
Freshman Mia Longen said, “The compliment wall really brings our school community together because everybody has a chance to feel recognized and loved.”
For classmate Hope Flanigan, “My favorite part about the compliment wall is that such a simple act can bring so much joy and excitement to the students at Peninsula.”
Freshman Claire Mandanno said, “It’s not just a week that passes, it’s a lifestyle this school demonstrates every single day.”
Sophomore Nick Williams said, “This place is so much better than my old school where everyone hated each other and people were always fighting. Coming here, everyone prides themselves on being nice to each other.”
For classmate Maddie Kihuski, “share the love is an encouraging and uplifting theme to confide in during such a time as this when there is plenty of hate and darkness in the world.”
Said senior Dora Vaughan, “Seeing how over the past four years the compliment wall has grown shows how our community is growing. When we walk through the pink halls, you feel the love and happiness that comes from loving one another!“
“It’s very inclusive because everyone can be apart of it,” said junior Emma Lofdahl, whose classmate Claire Brunkow likes, “that it brings positivity to our school.”
Fellow junior Alex Emens said, “For those who get self-conscious easily, it allows people to compliment others anonymously. It’s a really good thing the school and students put together and one of the reasons I love PHS.”
“I like that it gives people an opportunity to give compliments that they wouldn’t normally verbalize,“ said senior Faith Wilder.
Classmate Malia Kellerman said, “It makes me feel very happy to see so much love for everyone at this school and it makes me realize what wonderful people we have at (PHS) and how gracious everyone is.”
Junior Kylee Hall summed things up nicely with, “It shouldn’t matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, who you love. We are all human and we all should be equally loved.”
It would be nice if the folk in our national capital would start a similar program?
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.