As a sophomore last school year, Chelsea Taylor saw a need within her school for students to feel empowered. She got to thinking about what she could do to create positivity among her peers walking the halls of Crestview High School. Taylor said, “Through my parents’ divorce, I came to the conclusion that almost no one goes through life without pain, and there’s nothing I can do to take that pain away. However, I can make school a safe place to discuss the pain, and I can make it a place where positivity is the expected norm. We all have things we deal with at home and outside of school that can be really straining… school does not need to be added negativity. We spend a majority of our day at school, interacting with one another, if we can consistently make those interactions positive we will live much happier, fulfilling lives.” After doing some thinking and presenting her initial plans to school counselors Kris Kill and Dave Springer, Taylor and the counselors made some adjustments and ultimately came up with the KEY (Knights Empowering You) program.
Upon its formation, Taylor presented the idea to the student body and began holding small group meetings for anyone interested in participating over topics like stress, bullying, self-image, etc. However, Taylor saw an opportunity to do even more. “I completely revamped the program and morphed it into a layout where those few ambitious people would make a difference in the lives of every student. This year’s program has, and will, focus on more school-wide movements where people can’t hide from the influence as easily,” said Taylor.
The group has set the goal of spreading kindness each month through different activities and school-wide events. “Specifically this year I plan to have a theme for each month that will drive activities of the KEY program. For example, November is a month of gratitude; December, giving; January is new beginnings; and so on. In November the KEY program will center projects around gratitude. We will be creating a post-it wall by going around to each Knight Time to have everyone write down what they are thankful for on a sticky note,” said Taylor.
The first organized event by the group was “Mix It Up” day at lunch. This is an international event that focuses on breaking social boundaries and encouraging students to sit and talk with students that they might not otherwise socialize with.
On Tuesday, October 31st, students entered the cafeteria to find colored balloons on each table and, after getting their lunches, were given a corresponding Jolly Rancher candy to direct them to the appropriate table. Ice breakers and activities were placed on each table and some tables also included a teacher/staff facilitator. Although some tables were quiet or slow to start a conversation, several tables could be observed talking, laughing and playing the provided games.
Sophomore J. Feasby participated in the event and said, “It has the potential to be something really good.” Feasby found herself at a table with a fellow sophomore friend and two others she didn’t really know very well.
Taylor reflected, “Mix It Up day was a huge success! I was beyond impressed with the student body for their willingness to participate on the day of the event, along with the many people who helped plan it. I am so thankful for Crestview’s student body for being so positive toward the event, I will be sure to put efforts in to make it happen again.”
“When Chelsea first came to us with her idea for KEY, I was blown away by her initiative and vision for the project. However, I was most impressed by her ability to reflect over the summer, make adjustments to her original idea, and create something that I hope will continue at Crestview for a long time,” said Kill.
Crestview High School students participated in “Mix It Up Day”, an international event organized locally by the KEY program at Crestview. Students chose different colored candies that coordinated with balloons around the cafeteria and sat with other students that they may not normally interact with.