THERE is no question that the death of two Hickory High School students a year ago this week left a mark on this community.

There was not a heart that was left unbroken or a school that did not send messages of support to Hickory students and staff and their community.

We all felt the incredible loss.

It would have been easy to move on, to remember them, but to understand that while Alexis Myers and Danielle Nelson weren’t ever going to walk the school’s hallways again, that their spirits were still with their classmates, encouraging them to live their lives with joy and integrity.

That would be tribute enough.

But that is not what happened at Hickory High this week.

The students decided that the best way to honor the memory of the classmates they lost was to carry on their message of faith, good will and taking care of each other with action rather than just fond memories.

So, this week is Kindness Week at Hickory High.

There will be various manifestations of the message – including notes taped to lockers reminding students that they are special and part of the Hickory High School family.

And hearing about that made us think.

What if one of those notes, or one of the kind acts that will be part of Hickory High School students’ days this week, is the moment that makes a student who is feeling lost and alone feel a little bit better?

What if a kind act creates a friendship that will endure for decades to come?

It could happen, and it should happen, more often in our schools.

The problem of bullying in person and online among young people is not getting any better.

Too many children of all ages face ridicule and judgments that are cruel and cutting.

Some of them cannot take the abuse, and they suffer, a lot.

We need more kindness days everywhere around our community – and maybe in a few places where adults live and work, too.

We need to be kinder to each other, to remember that we cannot possibly know what it is like to live in someone else’s shoes – or to know the traumas they face or the self-doubt and problems they battle.

Teaching kindness young and sending the message that bullying in any form is unacceptable, that is how we create a better world.

Unity is much stronger than division. Finding common ground is how we stay strong.

Hickory High School led the way this week.

We hope other schools will follow.

We feel certain that Alexis and Danielle would be very proud of the leadership their classmates are showing.

We hope it lets their families know as well just how much of an impact their girls had on their community.

That is a legacy worth remembering – and a lesson worth teaching – every year.

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