By Kelli Gile, Walnut Unified
Suzanne Middle School students brought a whole lot of sunshine to parents, local seniors, and fellow classmates on March 18. Drama, PALS, and PLUS leadership members sprinkled happiness throughout the day.
The group of 80 students wore bright yellow shirts and big smiles as they greeted parents during the morning drop off. They carried happiness signs with positive messages like You are Loved, Breathe, and It’s Going to be All Right.
“Our kids were standing in the parking lot and street corners just wishing everybody a great day,” said math and drama teacher Helen Papadopoulos.
The Happiness Project, created by Laura Lavigne, founder of the Anacortes Center for Happiness is a simple way to share a powerful message. People that were sprinkled might have been surprised at first, but the happiness spread quickly. They smiled, waved back, and some even honked.
“We get to spread happiness all over!” exclaimed eighth grader Samantha Stone.
“We saw so many amazing parents driving by and smiling as they left the parking lot. So we feel like we did our job!” Papadopoulos added.
Later in the morning, the group trekked over to the Walnut Senior Center to make a surprise delivery of flowers, hugs, and smiles. The kids continued waving their yellow pompoms and signs at passing cars while they walked down La Puente Blvd.
When they arrived, they mingled through a morning senior aerobics class sharing the gifts of happiness. Seventh grader Mary Danganan made a beeline right over to Darlene Knox.
“I think it’s wonderful!” exclaimed the surprised retired educator clutching the colorful stems.
“We just wanted to spread love and happiness. And it’s fun!” Danganan gushed after giving a heartfelt hug.
Masa Nishida, a 35-year-resident, said he was brought to tears with the special gesture. “It’s great!” he beamed.
“The seniors just loved the flowers from the kids,” commented Recreation Supervisor Gabriela Encinas.
“It was really fun to see them smile,” said 8th grader Priscilla Pranajasa after visiting the senior center.
At lunch, the happiness sprinkling continued. Random notes of kindness were passed out to students that said “You Matter, Sure You Can, Imagine, and You Can Do It.
“It’s Pass It On Week, so week so we’ve been spreading happiness!’ Pranajasa said.
“Today is about changing just one life at a time!” added teacher and leadership advisor Marla Rickard. Rickard wants students to see the impact of sharing a smile or kind word.
“It can not only change the lives of others, but they’ll change a little inside too.”