After the suicide of a classmate, a group of high schoolers leave encouraging notes on lockers for every student
When the students of Mason High School came back for the start of a new school year, they were met with some tragic news. One of their classmates, fifteen-year-old Kwadwo Boateng, had committed suicide over the summer. As faculty and students tried to process the loss of Boateng, a group of students came together with a great idea to help the entire school cope with their grief.
Erica English, who was a member of Boateng’s sophomore class, told Today the news of his death came as a huge shock. “No one ever expected this to happen, ” she said. “At first, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Everyone was sad and you could tell when people walked down the halls that it hit them really hard.”
A day after the students learned of Boateng’s passing, fellow sophomore Anna Aronson came across an idea on Pinterest. She and English, along with sophomores Michelle Crispin, Nick Krueger, Ellie Uematsu and Jessica Morse decided to write Post-it notes with short, encouraging messages and leave them on the locker of every single student in the school. It was a way to both honor Boateng’ memory and remind all of the students that they’re valued.
Jotting a couple words on a Post-it note may seem like it’s just a sweet gesture, but to pull this off for the entire high school was actually a huge undertaking. With 3,600 students, Mason High School is the largest school in the state. That’s a lot of notes. The group was so excited about the project they split the cost of 4,000 Post-it notes before they even got the official green light from the principal. Luckily, he said yes.
They spent a Sunday evening writing up 1,000 notes. During school Monday they got permission to keep the school open for as long as needed to complete the project that night. Most kids are dying to get out of school the second the bell rings, but this group selflessly donated their money and time to lift the spirits of their classmates and remember a friend who’s gone too soon.
They worked from after school until just shy of 10 pm, eating pizza and bonding over hours of note writing. “When it started to get late, we got a little worried about getting it all done. But we wanted to commit to the project and stay as long as needed to make sure everyone got what they deserved,” Crispin says. “One of the things that inspired us to do this was that Kwadwo was such a positive person. He always wanted to spread so much joy and make people happy and we really looked up to him for that. We just wanted to do what he would have done for the world.”
When the students came in on Tuesday all the hard work was worth it. Kids spent the day wearing and comparing their notes, and some remained on the lockers for several days. “The reaction and all the positivity that it spread around the school made us the happiest,” Crispin says. “And the fact that we could bring so much joy to the school with just a 3-by-3 Post-it note with three words on it. I feel like this not only made kids happy but it will inspire them to do great things for people they don’t even know and continue to spread joy.”