Two pieces of good news this week—Valentine’s Day is over and the chocolate has been marked down! No offense to anyone who laboriously counts down the days until the next Valentine’s Day, but it’s not for me. I do miss seeing my kids get excited about their school parties and watching as they carefully selected which Crocodile Hunter or Hannah Montana card that they would give each classmate. They were intentional in their selections of the wordings of those cards for their classmates. They likely didn’t know the meaning of the word or that they were being intentional.
Three middle school boys in Kansas were well aware of their intentionality last week. Eighth grader Tristan Valentine (the irony!) realized that the Valentine’s Day craze often causes females to compare themselves to others and question their worth. Valentine pitched an idea to two of his friends—let’s buy a pink carnation for all the girls and female teachers and staff members at Summit Trail Middle School in Olathe. The other boys decided that Tristan had a worthy idea and the three of them (and likely their very proud mamas) made it happen. No specifics were given about how the boys paid for the flowers, but they “used their own money and arranged the funding.” I still think some very proud mamas may have contributed.
The boys worked with the school administration to make sure that none of the 270 female students and 70 staff members were left out. Each flower had a note attached that read “Hope you feel special today.” The boys told few other than school administration and their parents of their plans and arrived to school early last Thursday with buckets of pink carnations. They placed themselves near the school’s entrance so that no one was left out. The images are worth the Google search. They are sweet and heartwarming, even to those of us who don’t care for Valentine’s Day.
When interviewed, Tristan Valentine said that he wanted every female in the school to feel “special and accepted” on a day that can evoke sadness and comparison. The smiling faces of 340 students, teachers and staff members proved that Valentine’s idea was successful. So successful that other middle school boys tried to buy flowers from the three boys to give to their own girlfriends.
Middle schoolers are usually not known for intentional, selfless acts. This is a period of life where individuals are typically self-absorbed and fickle in relationships. It’s good to be reminded that there are always exceptions to any standard and definitely to any stereotype. It’s good to know that parents somewhere are still teaching the importance of intentionality to their children. Intentionality is not innate in our nature. It requires reflection, purpose, action and practice.
Tristan Valentine reflected on the February 14 holiday well before the day arrived. He knew that the day came every year and he knew that it wasn’t always a good experience for girls. Continuing to reflect, Tristan began to see a purpose. The purpose was to remind each of the females at his school that they mattered. Next, he planned. He knew who he could count on to help him and he went to those two friends. Again, I am pretty sure some moms and dads got behind this idea and helped out.
Once the plan was decided, it was time to practice intentionality. This “practice” required transporting multiple buckets of carnations to the school and getting their early. I’ve taught middle schoolers—none of them want to be at school early. It required communication with school administration—again, something that no student really wants to do. The act of intentionality required interacting with girls that the boys didn’t know. It also involved the risk of offending or angering a middle school girl (not a pretty situation). The three sweethearts were determined to deliver smiles, so they did the difficult things.
A mother of a student who brought home a pink carnation stated, “In a time where kids are mean and don't take time to show a caring heart or hand, these three boys arranged to have a flower for every young lady in the school. What a sweet gesture to make sure every girl felt important." A sweet gesture indeed!
Be intentional! Make someone feel special today!
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Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.