The pupils did good deeds based on President Bush's call for Americans to perform 1 million random acts of kindness.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HUBBARD -- David DeWitt never thought he would take the time to walk a kindergartner to his class at Roosevelt Elementary. But after doing that for just a few weeks, the 9-year-old Hubbard resident has had a change of heart.
"I think I could do it every day," he said.
DeWitt's do-good attitude is shared by his classmates at Hubbard Taekwondo. For the past four months, about 16 pupils have worked to heed the call of President Bush to perform random acts of kindness to honor the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11. While the national goal was for 1 million acts, the martial arts pupils set a personal challenge of 400 acts among them.
"Myself and the staff here issued the challenge," said John Fleming, who heads the classes. "One of the lessons of martial arts is that you have a commitment to your community. We had the students, on a daily basis, record the acts of kindness they performed."
Lesson of Sept. 11
Fleming, of Youngstown, and his fellow instructors, Bill Rankin and Jennifer Johnson, both of Austintown, teach not only the physical aspects of tae kwon do, but the spiritual and emotional ones. They learn that life is a gift, Fleming said, a lesson that was reinforced by the events of Sept. 11.
Many of the pupils turned in lists that included doing their homework, helping siblings and cleaning their rooms. Some admit they had help, but others said they worked alone.
"I did it all by myself," said 11-year-old Michael Wells of Hubbard.
Stefanie Saccomen, 8, of Hubbard, said the hardest thing for her was doing her homework, while 11-year-old Hubbard resident Randy Penn said he got tired of picking up pencils his friends would drop on purpose.
"I would show them my list and say, 'OK, I have enough of that,'" he said.
John Fleming, 6, of Youngstown and 11-year-old Brandon Wright, 8-year-old Scott Nord and 5-year-old Brandon Nord, all of Hubbard, each said that as the weeks went on, it became easier to perform the kind acts for other people.
A positive effect
"This really shows them that their efforts can positively affect the people around them," Fleming said of the pupils.
Some of the children even learned other lessons. Knowing that the exercise was tied in with honoring victims of Sept. 11, 12-year-old Jake Mauch saw it as having a global effect.
"There are a lot of unjust people in the world, and this just shows them that America is going to pull through," he said.