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Sterling Heights

Students stand for kindness on street corner

May 10, 2013

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Students from the Utica Community Schools district hold up signs with positive slogans as part of a “Power of One” walk at the corner of 18 Mile and Ryan roads in Sterling Heights May 8. Students from Jeannette Junior High School, Stevenson High School and Burr Elementary School participated.

Students from three local schools teamed up and took to the streets to demonstrate the “Power of One” May 8.

Holding signs with slogans like “Be a Good Friend,” about 45 kids and their school faculty supervisors spent the afternoon spreading good cheer at the corner of 18 Mile and Ryan roads in Sterling Heights, organizers said.

The students came from Jeannette Junior High School, Burr Elementary School and Stevenson High School in the Utica Community Schools district.

Michelle Uebrueck, faculty facilitator of Jeannette’s Operation Kindness student club, said the students’ “Power of One” walk inspires them to better society through individual action.

“We want them to know that by encouraging just one person to be kind, that can start a chain reaction, and kindness will be passed on from person to person continually on down the line,” she said.

The Jeannette school founded its Operation Kindness club around two years ago, during the end of the 2010-11 school year. The club is inspired by Rachel’s Challenge, a group founded by the family of Rachel Joy Scott, a Columbine High School student killed during the school’s 1999 mass shooting.

Rachel’s Challenge was created to spread her beliefs on how a single person’s compassionate acts could create a domino effect on society.

In carrying out that mission, Uebrueck said, Operation Kindness does activities such as welcoming new students and helping them get their schedules. She said last year was the first time Jeannette students demonstrated their kindness in public through the “Power of One” walk.

“We decided to go out in the community and encourage the community to do the same thing,” Uebrueck said.

During this year’s event, students held up a variety of handmade signs in front of passing traffic, such as “Use Kind Words” and “Practice Random Acts of Kindness!” According to Uebrueck, Burr and Stevenson brought members from similar clubs, respectively called Operation Kindness Jr. and FOR, or  “Friends of Rachel.”

Jeannette student Jared Wright, a veteran member of Operation Kindness, said he took part in the walk this year and last year. He said he feels good when cars honk back at the students’ positive message.

“We’re just excited and happy and smiling and making sure we are being joyful,” he said.

Jeannette Assistant Principal Pasquale Cusumano said this is his third year at the school, and he believes that the kindness club has already made a difference during his tenure.

“Since then, our school culture and climate has improved, as far as positive (behavior), less misbehavior,” Cusumano said. “We really harp on the respect.”

Learn more about Rachel’s Challenge at Jeannette Junior High School may be contacted at or by calling (586) 797-3300.

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