Prairie High School hosts third annual week of kindness
BATTLE GROUND — One week. One goal. Inspire others to love.
This is the foundation of Prairie High School’s (PHS) Inspire Week, which reached its third year of participation this month. The school’s 1,600-plus students came together once again to serve each other, their school staff and their community.
More than just the typical “spirit week” put on by many high schools, Inspire Week was founded on a desire to spread kindness and infect the school with the contagious desire to love the people around you.
“The first year that we introduced it, we had teachers nominate students, all different backgrounds, all different lifestyles, from every click and group that you could imagine, and them coming together and meeting each other and getting to know each other, working together was super awesome,” said Mandy Gardea, PHS’s security and founder of Inspire Week. “The next year, we kind of introduced it again and brought the leaders back from that but also invited more students. It’s grown into this amazing group. Everybody on campus knows what it is.”
Throughout the week, students engage with their peers in exciting and humorous activities like flash mobs, high five tunnels, cereal booths, sticky notes of encouragement, live music events, community service, and more.
Students held a breakfast event to thank Brush Prairie Baptist Church, who always holds a BBQ for students each year, as a neighbor of the school. The students also held an appreciation night at Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground to thank them for supporting school activities through donations.
“It has inspired me to be intentional in loving more students than just my classroom,” Dawn Rowe, who teaches World Studies at PHS, previously told ClarkCountyToday.com. “It has been beautiful watching love and joy spread.”
Gardea started Inspire week three years ago after seeing videos of a movement known as Dude. Be Nice (DBN). The radical acts of kindness and generosity inspired her to bring the culture of DBN to PHS.
As security for PHS and a former student of the school herself, Gardea said she has seen so much change, and many aspects not for the better. Instead of feeling defeated by the anxiety and depression around her, Gardea said she encouraged the use of social media for positive messages about Inspire Week and from there it has taken off.
“As security here it just was really important to me to try to bring just a positive vibe back to the school. I went here a long time ago and it’s just very different,” Gardea said. “It does spread, especially with the world of social media that we’re in. We’ve actually already had middle schools in our district that have asked us to come over and kind of spread that love over there. So it is getting out.”
On the final day of the week, students will use Valentines Day as another reason to appreciate those around them. Notes of encouragement and positive messages will be placed around the school, and given to staff.
As part of the week, PHS’s Christian Students United (CSU) club also held an Ignite the Fire event. The couple hundred students that attended heard from Ben Matson, a fellow student, and drug addict turned public speaker and evangelist, Scott McNamara, from Northern Ireland.
PHS is set to continue Inspire Week and related events into the coming months as students and staff continue to build new partnerships and relationships with community members and each other.