When students at Canyon Rim Elementary gathered for an assembly about kindness earlier this month, they had no idea one of their peers was about to be singled-out for his own positivity and compassion.
Third-grader Jake Bonnello was as surprised as any of his classmates when he was summoned to the stage by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and honored for his contributions to the culture of Canyon Rim. A local business owner even kicked in Angels gear.
“Jake has shown kindness to his classmates by always looking for friends who are left out, volunteering to help his teacher even after school with whatever she needs, and helping on campus clean-up and with lunch support,” Principal Michelle Owen said later.
“Several staff, students and parents recognized that even though this kiddo had gone through such tough struggles, he continued to show kindness to others through all of his random acts of kindness,” she said, “and the students, staff and parents wanted to organize their own random act of kindness for him.”
Located in Anaheim, Canyon Rim is part of the Orange Unified School District. On Sept. 7, Principal Owen called a special end-of-day assembly for grades one through three to discuss the importance of kindness, as well as her school’s participation in a 21-day kindness challenge.
With students looking on, Owen introduced Mayor Tait, known for launching Anaheim’s “City of Kindness” initiative in 2013. Tait talked about ways to incorporate kindness at home, school and out in the community before calling Jake to the stage and celebrating the third-grader as a shining example of kindness at Canyon Rim.
Current and former teachers echoed the praise, speaking about Jake’s positivity and selflessness. Then Clay Kilbarger of First Team Real Estate presented him with an Angels gift package that included two fifth-row Diamond Club tickets, T-shirts, a baseball cap, balloons and a certificate.
“We wanted Jake to know that his kindness hasn’t gone unnoticed and to make him feel as special as he makes those around him feel, every day,” says Kilbarger, whose team established the “Be Good, Do Good, Feel Good” campaign a few years ago to honor deserving individuals. “By the smile on his face, I think we succeeded.”
Orange Unified is emphasizing kindness as a key value for students, teachers and faculty in 2018-19. Through the 21-day campaign and other efforts, the district is supporting OCDE’s One Billion Acts of Kindness initiative, which was established in 2016 to improve school climates, promote character and rally the community for greater civility.