The annual 8th grade Kindness Retreat is a bonding experience that encourages students to be kind to one another and spread kindness throughout their communities. The retreat was started in 2010, after 8th Grade Dean and Foreign Language Instructor Regina Rosi was inspired by the Kind Campaign.
The Kind Campaign was started by two graduates of Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. For their senior thesis project, Molly Thompson and Lauren Parsekian founded the campaign in response to the bullying that many girls face. Their goal was to spread kindness and stop girl-on-girl crime. They made a documentary called Finding Kind to spread their idea, and Rosi said that she was immediately struck by the film, which follows Thompson and Parsekian as they travel around the United States with their moms, interviewing girls with stories about girl-on-girl violence.
“I watched the video in 2010, and I thought it was so good. I cried through half of it, and I made all of my friends watch it,” Rosi said.
Rosi collaborated with School Counselor Emily Vaughn to create a retreat for eighth graders that would spread the powerful message of kindness.
This year, the retreat, which took place on Monday, Dec. 16, was approximately three hours long. The girls came to school in their pajamas, gathered as a class to watch the documentary, and had some time to reflect on it afterwards. Girls were then released for a potluck lunch before convening at assigned seats at tables in Caswell Hall for an hour-long discussion about the film.
Rosi said that she was drawn to the issue of kindness and bullying because she feels everyone can relate to it.
“Girl-on-girl unkindness has always been an issue in the history of this world and still is an issue, whether you are at Marlborough or not,” Rosi said.
This year, eighth graders made a Kindness Wall to help them reflect on how to be kinder people and how to make the class of 2018 more inclusive.
Family members, especially mothers, were also invited to attend the retreat which, Rosi believes, made the retreat much more powerful.
“Moms, even if they are in their fifties, still remember high school and remember times when other girls were mean to them and where kindness could go a long way,” Rosi said.
Many agree that, socially, 8th grade is an especially difficult year. Rachel ’14 said that she had a hard time fitting in in 8th grade.
“In 7th grade we were all buddy-buddy; we all sat on the field together,” Rachel said. “But then in 8th grade, I went from feeling like I was friends with everyone to only being friends with a handful of girls.”
Rosi agreed that the retreat feels very timely.
“Eighth grade to me seems like the sweet spot to have a program like this. I remember 8th grade as a time when I was unfortunately not necessarily the kindest person. I think that it is an interesting transition year and a time when we take things very, very personally,” Rosi said.
Vaughn also thinks that 8th grade is a very difficult year for many girls.
“There are a lot of little hurts that happen, and they seem to happen very dramatically in the 8th grade. I think that it is a developmental process and you begin to be aware of the social hierarchy,” Vaughn said.
This year, the eighth graders were excited to bond as a grade and learn about the importance of kindness.
“If we understand the importance of being kind, we will try harder to be kind to one another,” Emily ’18 said.
After the retreat, many girls were excited by how the events turned out but had some suggestions for how to make it better in the future.
“I would have liked to discuss the movie with our moms more. I also thought that they gave us a lot of questions but not that much time to go over them,” Kyra ’18 said.
“I still really enjoyed the retreat and felt that it was nice to meet new people and to finally match the moms to their daughters,” she said.