On Friday morning, seventh-graders at Wisconsin Hills Middle School were surprised to find encouraging sticky notes on their lockers.
"Be yourself, you're amazing."
"You are never alone."
"You are loved."
"You are someone's reason to smile."
More than 300 notes were stuck to lockers and teachers' doors on the seventh-grade floor. The sudden burst of goodwill came as a surprise to both teachers and students.
"I'm not much of a crier," Principal Robyn Martino said, "but when I walked upstairs and saw the notes, my eyes just started running."
The surprise notes were written by three students who wanted to make their peers smile after returning from the school's Courage Retreat earlier in the week.
The seventh-grade retreat, hosted at Brookfield Central High School, promoted respect, acceptance and teamwork.
"I just wanted to remind everyone that they aren't alone," said 12-year-old Jenna Wojcik, who began hanging the notes at 6:40 a.m. with friends Ashley Knight and Alylah Luang. "I think the whole point of this was that we wanted to make everyone smile and to brighten up their day."
In many cases, the notes were successful.
"I was having a pretty bad morning," said Blake Boles, 13, as he removed items from his locker. "But I just came up here, and the note really made me smile. My day is much better now."
Throughout the day, fellow students thanked the three girls for their notes.
"I've always wanted to do something to make a difference," said Knight, before brainstorming about other positive ways to support her peers.
"No one asked the kids to do it," Martino said, holding back tears. "There was no incentive for them to do it. This message of care, thought and value is just unprecedented. This is one of the most touching moments I've had in my 13 years here."
Martino wasn't the only staff member to shed tears that morning, the girls said.
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