Words matter at Matthew Henson Middle School and kindness was the word of the day on Sept. 3 as schools opened for the 2019-20 school year.

Wearing matching gray shirts with the message “One kind word can change someone’s entire day,” Henson staff gathered at the front of the school and shared kind words, hugs, and encouragement to nearly 800 students as they filed out of buses and cars.

The encouragement and kind words didn’t stop at the front door. As sixth graders joined their homeroom teachers, they found postcards on their desks with personal messages of support from parents or a teacher. The postcards made the middle school newcomers smile, and many took a second and third peek at their note before being ushered to their first-period class at their new school.

The idea for the postcards started with the school’s guidance counselor Alexandra Eichel. Each card had a unique inspirational quote glued to the front and a personalized message from a parent or teacher on the back.

“It has been heartwarming to see the students place their postcards in the clear sleeves of their binders or somewhere else in their books. The idea was to shock the students’ nerves with kindness and reassurance so that the first day did not seem so scary — and I think it did just that,” said Principal Christina Caballero.

Across the parking lot from Henson,  J.C. Parks Elementary School Principal Greg Miller greeted each family in the “car line,” welcoming them to Parks and a new school year as a coworker handed out tags and instructions for pick up and drop off each day.

Earlier at Maurice J. McDonough High school, cheerleaders and the band provided an enthusiastic welcome as teachers waved signs of encouragement, shared hugs and high fives as students arrived at school.

The attention to creating a culture of kindness, respect, and academic celebration spread across the county and schools on Sept. 3 as Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) principals and staff opened their doors for the 2019-20 school year. The school system welcomed more than 26,000 students last week, a number that will continue to climb this week as prekindergarten and Three’s Program students start school Sept. 10.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...