Partner School Stories

Be A Friend Week At Saint Leo The Great School

By Nicole Nolan, MPP, MSW, LSW

We have been using The Positivity Project at Saint Leo The Great School for several years now. This year, we decided in addition to the weekly words, to pick 2-3 character strengths as our year long focus.  We chose kindness and leadership.

Throughout “Love” week in February, we had a lot of discussions about how love is more than just romantic, but more so an appreciation of all of the things we care about, including our school community.  Therefore, we decided to create Be A Friend Week, where everyone focused on small acts of kindness that could change someone’s entire day.

Our student council stepped up to the challenge by picking out a quote that spoke about kindness and the impact of friendship.  Then, each morning they led the school in a reflection announced over our loudspeaker.

Students in all grades participated in a Kindness Bingo that hung in our cafeteria, gaining bingo squares for their classrooms/homerooms as they completed each act of kindness.

Additionally, since our school is across the street from a senior living residence, the students created happy hearts cards with messages of hope and love to show our love for our community.

Saint Leo The Great Students

Finally, our middle school students were given a writing prompt, How do you practice kindness daily? Through this writing prompt, it was apparent that The Positivity Project was working, as students frequently named and discussed other character strengths that impacted their ability to be kind and their motivation to do kind things for others.

Here are some impactful moments from Be A Friend Week:

“My favorite moment from Be A Friend Week was when one of my students surprised me with one of my favorite snacks! He had asked me what I liked early in the morning, and a bag of chips had magically appeared on my desk by the end of the day.” – Middle School Teacher

“My students were excited and enthusiastic about doing random acts of kindness for each other!” – 3rd Grade Teacher


Nicole Nolan, MPP, MSW, LSW

Nicole Nolan is the school counselor at Saint Leo the Great School in Lincroft, New Jersey. With a specialty in trauma and high risk populations, Nicole has a background in clinical social work and public policy. Nicole is a contributor to the prevention program, Lifelines and consults with schools throughout New Jersey on best practices for traumatic loss and response. At Saint Leo’s, Nicole oversees the Positivity Project and other social emotional learning for grades PreK through 8th, as well as providing direct counseling to students. Nicole has been the cheerleading program director at SLG for 10 years, and was even a graduate herself (2001). Nicole enjoys spending time with her family, especially being outside or at the beach!