LOCKPORT, NY - Between low test scores, drugs and violence, schools are often in the news for all the wrong reasons. But 2 On Your Side is happy to share with you a positive video made by a Lockport school that's now getting national attention for sending a powerful message, without saying a word.
The students at North Park Junior High School in Lockport have learned the true meaning of the Miranda Lambert song "All Kinds of Kinds" through a video project created by social studies teacher Jeff Dinse. Watch the video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRfQ-L_HOXs).
"In middle school sometimes kids can be brutal to one another, but middle school is a time when you should try all sorts of different things and be who you are," said Dinse.
To teach that important lesson to the student, teachers paired the students up with others with similar interests, essentially bringing strangers together. Group by group they held up signs throughout the video showing what "kinds" of people they are. They included the "dramatic kind" - the "quiet kind" - the "Buffalo Bills kind" - the "helpful kind."
Some teachers were also willing to be more vulnerable to let students know they're not alone.
"So many students have approached adults in the building that they have that experience in their family," said social studies teacher Marcia Baehre.
The kids learned firsthand about diversity, tolerance, and compassion.
"Everyone's different. It's not just their appearance, but what's inside, their feelings and stuff that counts," said 8th grader Emma Binner, the "diver kind."
Keyon Hamilton is the "duct tape kind." He is new to the school and no one knew that silly side of him until now.
"I was kind of the oddball cause nobody really knows me, so I was just trying to make friends and stuff." Hamilton added it has helped to create those friendships.
And kids like Devin Leatherman who made an unbelievable backwards basketball shot on the first try at the end of the video, are now getting attention they've never seen before.
"It kind of makes me feel good in a way. It makes me feel like people are starting to get me more. Teachers are starting to like me more, too. And it just makes me happy," said Leatherman, the "compassionate kind."
Among the video's more than 50,000 YouTube viewers is Miranda Lambert herself. On Monday she tweeted, "Just saw this video North Park Junior High made with "All Kinds of Kinds." They have the right idea!" she sent the video's link to her 3 million followers.
"There's so much emphasis on testing and standards," said Dinse. "I find myself watching the video over and over. It reminds us why we got into teaching. It's about the kids."
Now North Park Junior High is opening up this project to other kids and even community members who weren't in the original video.
Anyone can send a photo to the school, holding a sign saying what "kind" they are. They are posting those photos in a path throughout the entire school for all to see.