Methow Valley School District students are getting a boost of hope and support along with their sack lunches.
Twice a week, students will find “Hope Notes” with their lunch: small cards with a positive message on one side, and a kindness challenge on the other side. One recent Hope Note had a quote from John F. Kennedy: “Find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
The other side contains a challenge to think about the people who have made a difference in the student’s life, and to follow that thought with an action by sending thank you notes.
There are 21 different cards that will appear in student’s sack lunches delivered on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of the school year.
Hope Notes were created by the team at Only7Seconds in Pateros. Only7Seconds is a social movement started by Kristin Wall and her son Ethan. The idea is to encourage people to alleviate isolation by spending 7 seconds to send someone a positive message. Only7Seconds provides Hope Notes templates on their website, http://www.only7seconds.life.
Mandy Schmekel, mother to four boys in the Methow Valley School District, was already working with Only7Seconds to spread positivity with the high school basketball team. She and her sons, freshmen Jackson and Tristan, seventh-grader Bradyn, and fourth-grader Landon, came up with ideas to reach out to other students with messages of encouragement using the Only7Seconds Hope Notes.
The Schmekel family wrote a letter to school district Superintendent Tom Venable, who supported the idea immediately. In an email, Venable lauded the project as a way to “ensure that our students know that while they may be isolated, they’re not alone, they’ve not been forgotten, and they matter!”
“At first, we thought to use school equipment for production,” said Schmekel, but in talking with Venable, the district decided to support a local business for print production of the Hope Notes. Schmekel reached out to Twisp Daily Art and Business Supply. Owner Barbara Grubb enthusiastically got right to work, feeling empathy for the families from her own life experience. “I’ve been in all those places before,” Grubb said. “A lot of love for those kids is sent out with this project.”
For designer Darla Hussey, who also has a student in the school district, this project was personally important. “It was a way to connect with the kids,” she said.
Grubb and Hussey donated their labor hours to the project to produce over 8,000 Hope Notes. To honor 2020’s graduating seniors, Twisp Daily Art & Business Supply also created a senior display in the shop window, featuring senior portraits.
Resonate with all
The Hope Notes, combined with the Golden Tickets on Wednesdays, “give students something to look forward to,” said Schmekel.
In his email, Venable writes, “I’ve received several anecdotal comments, mostly from parents as well as some of our students, who appreciate and look forward to receiving inspiring messages of hope and encouragement. They resonate not only with our youth, but with our parents and community members as well.”
In conversations with fellow parents, Schmekel learned the cards are “dinner time conversation starters. An example would be, list seven things you are thankful for.” Schmekel hopes the cards encourage parents and students “to think about how we can help others through these challenging times.”
To view Hope Notes included in student lunches, visit the Methow Valley School District Facebook page. For downloadable templates, and other inspirational resources created by Only7Seconds, visit http://www.only7seconds.life.