June 23, 2022

The end of the school year brings several traditions that help students celebrate the past year. One of those traditions is the signing of yearbooks. Even in a world with social media, students look forward to receiving their yearbooks. It records so much of their school year memories. Students quickly begin to pass their yearbooks around and have their friends and classmates put their autographs on the pages. It is a wonderful tradition.

Brody Rider is a sixth grader who was excited to receive his first yearbook in middle school. He took time to look over the pages with great excitement. Brody wanted to have others sign his yearbook. Sadly, very few students wanted to do it. In fact, so few would sign his yearbook that Brody himself wrote on the front page, “Hope you make some more friends” and he signed it.

Brody’s mom, Cassandra, saw his note in the yearbook and it broke her heart. Brody had experienced being bullied before. Cassandra did not want to keep silent about how bullying had affected her son. She took a photo of his lonely writing and posted it to her social media with a note about how we should treat one another. Cassandra wanted others to be upset, just like she was. However, a few high school students saw the post and decided to turn a sad event into something special.

Joanna Cooper, a junior at the local high school, had a long talk with her mother. Joanna said, “No kid deserves to feel like that.” She helped to organize other students and they paid a visit to Brody’s middle school. They barged into Brody’s classroom and asked the teacher if they could see Brody and sign his yearbook. Seniors, juniors, and sophomores all filled the classroom. They took their time writing notes of encouragement in Brody’s yearbook. By the end of the day, Brody had collected over one hundred notes and signatures from high school students.  Many of the notes included their cell phone numbers with a note that said, “Call your senior friends if you need anything.”

It only took a few moments for each student to sign Brody’s yearbook. Those momentary actions will have a long-lasting effect on Brody. It is a reminder to each of us that simple acts of kindness, to the people in our lives, make a difference. When we choose to be kind and care for others, we help to build a better world. Like these thoughtful high school students, we can work to make sure that all are cared for, and that all are welcomed.

– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship