On October 20, thousands of Ringgold students, from kindergartners to seniors, gathered at Don Patterson Field to kick off a year-long campaign to bring more good into the world. Dex and Moe of US101 Radio emceed, Ringgold Mayor Nick Millwood and UTC basketball coach Matt McCall spoke, choruses from six schools pulled together and performed as one choir, bands played, and cheerleaders led a "wave of good."
"It was so incredible and special to see all the kids together, all of them wearing "Be the Good" T-shirts and committing to bringing more good into the world," says Kerri Sholl, principal of Graysville Elementary School and author of the campaign.
The idea to start a system-wide program, encompassing six schools, that would encourage children to be the good they’d like to see in the world started with a phone that wouldn’t work and the repairman who came out to fix it. "Just think of the impact you have on children’s lives and on families and the future," the man said when he learned what Sholl did for a living.
"It made me examine how I was using my impact," says Sholl, "and how I could use it even more." Sholl started talking and brainstorming with her daughter, Karoline , a senior at Ringgold High. What came of it was the "Be the Good" campaign.
"At first, I was just thinking about something we could do at Graysville," says Sholl. "But it quickly became apparent it should include all the schools – Ringgold High and all the schools that feed into it."
Sholl contacted Catoosa County Schools Superintendent Denia Reese. "Mrs. Reese was very supportive and offered to do anything she could to help. This couldn’t have come to fruition without her."
The idea of the program is for every school to choose an act of kindness or goodness each month. It might be a food or coat drive, or finding ways to thank those who serve the community. There are no rules or limits on what schools can do.
"Our first project at Graysville is to make goodie bags for local police officers and firefighters," says Sholl. "The teachers and kids are so excited about it that some of them have decided to take on individual class projects in addition to the whole-school project.
"We put this all together in a very short time," says Sholl. "We needed $15,000 to fund the kick-off. That included 4,600 T-shirts for students and staff. The first 15 businesses I asked to sponsor the program all said yes – it was incredible. We stopped there so we could include their logos prominently on the shirts and because that was all the money we needed." But Sholl says many other businesses offered to help when they learned about the program.
"So many people helped with this. My daughter, who was excited and contributed ideas; Mrs. Reese; Shelley Johnson, my assistant principal; Kay Hardeman, our media specialist; Linnet Lea, our secretary; Jané Ellis, Ringgold High’s chorus teacher; the principals of all six schools involved: J.R. Jones of Ringgold High, Jeff Fricks of Ringgold Middle, David Bear of Tiger Creek, Nancy Gurganus of Ringgold Primary, Kim Erwin of Ringgold Elementary. The list could go on and on – the whole community has been so supportive.
"I can’t think of a better way to use my impact than to inspire others to use theirs for good," says Sholl. "The world needs a lot more people working to be the good others see in the world."