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Amsterdam High students welcomed back by messages of positivity

Amsterdam High students welcomed back by messages of positivity

Every student's locker had a Post-it note
Amsterdam High students welcomed back by messages of positivity
Twelfth-graders Skylar Grybos, left, and Joclyn Bottisti talk about the notes attached to their lockers on Tuesday afternoon.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

AMSTERDAM -- When Amsterdam High School students returned to class Monday after a weeklong break, they were greeted by handwritten messages scrawled on post-it notes and stuck to their lockers.

The messages – hundreds of different inspirational quotes – served as a quick shot of positivity for students returning to a stressful time of the school year. The messages ran the gamut but focused on uplifting messages to inspire teenagers and to remind them that so much more still lies ahead of them.

“Every day is a new beginning,” according to one note. “Take a deep breath and start again.”

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop,” another one read.

Lori Stachnik, the mother of an Amsterdam sophomore and the force behind Monday’s notes, said she wanted to give students something uplifting to think about as they started back at school this week.

“My hope was someone went into school yesterday and whatever quote they got might resonate with them,” Stachnik said. “If one kid got something out of it or two kids got something out of it, it was worth it all.”

Stachnik, who graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1980, said she got the idea from reading about a middle school student who had done something similar for her classmates. Stachnik reached out to Nancy Rad, a longtime friend and community schools coordinator for Amsterdam schools, and asked if they could do something similar.

Stachnik went about identifying hundreds of different inspirational messages for teenagers, printing the quotes out and scores of sheets of paper. For a week straight, using a sharpie, she wrote out the messages by hand; she said she could do around 100 notes a day. At one point, she scrawled out the messages while attending her son’s track meet.

“I went through a lot of Sharpies,” she said.

Stachnik and Rad on Friday surreptitiously posted the messages on the lockers of every student in the school, about 1,200 kids in all.

Last year, Rad and another teacher made a similar effort, printing out notes for students that said, “You matter.” But she said Monday’s messages resonated more strongly with students because of the personal nature of a handwritten note and the variety of messages.

“It meant so much more,” Rad said of the personal care that went into Stachnik’s notes. “It was just powerful to them at a time when it’s not a fun time of year.”

The boost of positivity gained national attention by Tuesday morning. A reporter from Good Morning America visited to write an article about the notes, and a handful of workers from 3M, the Minnesota-based maker of Post-it notes, visited the high school. It just so happened they were in Amsterdam for meetings, Rad said.

“Kids, they just need to know that somebody believes in them,” Rad said. “That’s what those quotes do, they build you up and make you feel like a big hug.”

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