Random words of kindness have gone viral for Bozeman High School students.
Mallory McEwen started it all Sunday morning when she created a Facebook page called Hawk Compliments, where the school’s 1,900 students could write nice things about each other on the Internet.
A day and a half later, 2,220 compliments had been submitted and 709 people had “liked” the page. At one point Sunday, she and her dad figured that 23 new compliments were coming in every minute.
McEwen, a 17-year-old junior, made sure each message was appropriate before posting it.
“I was shocked,” she said. She launched the page at 9 a.m. and “from there it grew exponentially…. I was on the computer for 10 hours straight.”
A typical compliment read: “Annie … is so bubbly and kind to everyone. I really look up to that.”
“Katrina,” wrote another, “you have always been the light in my darkest times.”
“Leo … How do you Always have so much energy! You are always laughing and smiling. It’s awesome!”
Even teachers got compliments: “Mr. Zuzulock is freaking amazing.”
McEwen said she got the idea after an anti-bullying seminar in class last week.
The same day, someone anonymously created a Facebook page called Hawk Confessions. It was patterned after similar Confessions pages for college students that are full of snarky comments, profanity and sexual put-downs.
“It was very negative,” McEwen said of Hawk Confessions. “It turned into picking on people, with lots of sarcasm and rude posts.”
Her parents saw it Saturday night and thought it was pretty awful. The next morning she woke up with an epiphany and started the Compliments page.
By dinnertime, McEwen was exhausted and had to call in reinforcements. Her best friend, 16-year-old junior Morgan McKenzie, a fellow member of the Blaze competitive cheer squad, volunteered to take over some monitoring duties, rejecting any comments that were negative, overly sexual or degrading.
“They were still coming in at midnight,” McKenzie said. It’s addictive, reading the nice things students had written, she said. “It automatically put me in a better mood. Both giving and getting compliments felt amazing.”
Meanwhile, the number of people who “liked” the negative Confessions page on Monday afternoon was just 355, half as many as the Compliments page.
“I took over,” McEwen said with a laugh.
She said tears came to her eyes when she read posts like: “My faith in humanity has been restored thanks to this page.” Another writer thanked Bozeman High students for making them feel welcome and added. “I’m so proud to be a Hawk.”
“There’s so much love, it’s touching,” McKenzie said.
Even though Hawk Compliments cut severely into her homework time, McEwen said she hopes it will keep going. The young women now are getting help from fellow student Isaac Nelson.
“I think it will last,” McKenzie said. “People like to read it. … It makes you happy, just reading how nice people can be.”
To view the Hawk Compliments Facebook page, visit http://bit.ly/hawk-compliments.
Gail Schontzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 582-2633.