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Dexter students, community members ‘Say Yes to Nice’

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DEXTER — The school and greater community alike will encourage everyone to Say Yes to Nice.

Dexter Elementary School, 415 E. Grove St., and Dexter Free Library, 120 E. Kirby St., have come together to offer this initiative to join against bullying and to unify simply by being nice.

“It primarily came about with patrons coming in from the library,” said Jennifer M. Thomas, director of the Dexter Free Library. “Sometimes it was kids coming from after school saying, ‘Someone picked on me,’ so the idea came about that maybe we should do something as a community.”

Hope Ann LoPresti, elementary school principal, jumped on board. The initiative is held in conjunction with General Brown Central School District’s character education program.

“If we start the positive approach early, kids won’t act uncourteous to others,” she said.

The initiative’s kickoff was Friday, when more than 350 students put paint on one of their hands and made a handprint on a large banner, as a sign of their promise to be nice to others. Small yellow, blue, pink, red and green handprints covered the canvas, alongside handprints of their teachers and administrators.

Connor St. John, 11, a sixth-grader, said he put his red handprint on the banner because he, too, wants to be nice. “Say Yes to Nice is to help the bullying problem,” he said. “A lot of stuff is going on to prevent bullying.”

Connor said he doesn’t recall any recent events where he was bullied, but he still tries to be courteous to others, even at school. “Lately, I’ve been helping the prekindergartners on the bus, to get on it safely,” he said.

Moments like that, Mrs. Thomas said, are what the campaign is all about.

“We do hope that will spread; we hope we can be a model,” she said.

Mrs. LoPresti said monthly activities will be planned to give a fresh reminder to children on how to be positive. Students can earn a free T-shirt for various initiative activities in which they are involved. Shirts also will be on sale for the community to purchase at the library.

Mrs. Thomas said another project within the initiative is a community book, where people will write online, through the library website, each month about a topic. This month’s topic, or chapter, is about why people said “yes” to Say Yes to Nice. Beginning Oct. 1, that information will be published on the library website, www.dexter freelibrary.org.

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