School started in Colchester on Wednesday and students in the district’s intermediate and elementary schools were greeted with a resounding message to be kind.
It is part of the ‘Colchester is Kind’ movement.
Large signs are displayed in the schools that encourage students to "Be the Nice Kid" and embrace their individuality.
Volunteers spent the summer planning and setting up more than 3,000 sticky notes as a surprise for students on their first day. They put them on their lockers. Each one displayed a different message like "follow your heart" or "fearlessly be yourself."
“There’s a lot of things that will happen throughout their day that are difficult, if you can be kind and you can be friendly and happy then you can make somebody else’s day better and your own day better,” said Elise Butson, the principal of Jack Jackter Intermediate School.
Some of the inspirational messages were accompanied by letters that older students wrote to welcome the sixth graders.
“It was nice. It’s nice to feel like other people went through this, too, so we know,” said Reese Henderson, a 6th grader at William J. Johnston Middle School.
Approximately 19 students attending the middle and elementary schools also wore shirts that said "I will be your friend."
“These shirts are designed to help children who may be feeling a little unsure on their first day to know that there’s someone there who has their back and can help them,” said Jill Hagan, a parent of a second-grade student.
“I hope they ask if I will be their friend and I will say 'absolutely,'” said Hunter Kovach, a second-grade student from Colchester.
The message of kindness is one that teachers and administrators hope continues throughout the school year.
“What better message can you give to kids than to be kind to others? In today’s climate that’s a great message for kids to remember. It’s simple, it’s to the point,” said Christopher Bennett, the principal of William J. Johnston Middle School.