A motivational sign created as part of #whatsyour17bfa. Photo credit: Karla Kane

Caitlyn Mossey, Writer

#whatsyour17bfa was started a few years at Bellows Free Academy by art teacher, Dee Christie, and math teacher Karla Kane.  They started #whatsyour17bfa to improve the school climate. Christie and Kane got the inspiration for #whatsyour17bfa from a Facebook post about the 17 victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which took place on Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.

 After contacting the author of the Facebook post, and getting permission to use the “slogan” from the post, “smile at 17 people you normally wouldn’t smile at, say a kind word to 17 people who might not have someone to speak to, open your heart to 17 people who might be hurting, offer friendship to 17 people who might have had none… 17 reasons to make a change. 17 reasons to make a difference. What’s your 17?” Christie and Kane decided to use this slogan to promote positivity at BFA. 

According to Kane, “We wanted the #whatsyour17BFA movement to make a positive difference for our students and our school.”

So far Christie, Kane and other participating students and faculty have made motivational posters, a Facebook group, bulletin board, Instagram account (created by BFA math teacher Luke Cioffi), t-shirts, inspirational messages for bathroom stalls and lockers and vinyl quotes for halls and classrooms.  They also created a raffle for two on-campus parking spots that take place every third week.  Students are entered into the raffle when a faculty or staff member notices, and recognizes, the student’s act of kindness by awarding them with a “whatsyour17bfa” card with the student’s name on it, which then goes into the raffle.  

“Some students have been involved by joining the Facebook and Instagram groups, but we need more.  If staff and students would be willing to post about any positive things they see or have been involved in, that would be great,” Kane said.