Acts of Kindness: Students make projects for others during FLEX


Samantha Usnick

With the new addition of FLEX, teachers have been devoting FLEX time to tutorials to help students. Biology teacher Samantha Usnick has found another way to help students during FLEX alongside tutorials.

Usnick reserves Tuesday and Thursday for AP and Pre-AP Biology tutoring and devotes Wednesday and Friday to classes she calls Acts of Kindness and Financial Friday. Acts of Kindness consists of teaching students new skills and applying those skills to a project for someone else to teach them compassion. Any student interested in attending Acts of Kindness is allowed to join the class every Wednesday during Flex in Usnick’s room.

“Acts of Kindness is just a group of kids that volunteered to come together to do nice things for people they may or may not know,” Usnick said. “(Acts of Kindness) helps students in a couple of ways like some of the students are learning skills that they didn’t have before like calligraphy, which was student taught.”

Students like senior Casey Stavenhagen and senior David Muños have taught calligraphy and watercolor respectively. At the beginning of the semester, students made cards using their watercolor and calligraphy knowledge for teachers and administration at the school. However, the students have begun working a new project.

“Right now the kids are making little terracotta pots and covering them with fabric and bright designs and painting them so they can stuff them with candy and take them to all the patients in the Alzheimer’s unit at the Craig,” Usnick said. “The students selected that project and we thought that was the best project considering the patients and the life which they live and we thought the candy would brighten their day.”

The Craig is an assisted living facility in Amarillo that has services dedicated to memory care for patients with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and loss of other functions. Research has supported evidence that color can sometimes stimulate a memory in patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

“We picked the candy because we wanted to do something fun and happy that would brighten up (the patient’s) space,” Usnick said. “Kids are really smart thinking about things like that.”

On average, Usnick has 20 students come to Acts of Kindness every week. These students range from freshmen to seniors and Usnick said she plans to continue this class next year if she has the ability to. After the fabric pot project, Usnick plans on creating projects for Mother’s and Father’s day as well as having the senior make gifts for their elementary school teachers that do not receive the same appreciation as the high school teachers.

“(The purpose) is to brighten someone’s day,” Usnick said. “We sometimes get caught up in ourselves and it’s nice to do things for other people it makes you feel really good.”