By Christine Brownridge and Jeffrey Pensabene
In the words of the late and great Bob Marley
“Live if you want to live.
That’s what we got to give!
Got to have a good vibe!
At Burlington County Institute of Technology-MedTech, the school community lives by Marley’s mantra of needing good vibes to live, so much so, that they formed a club devoted to sharing good vibes throughout their school and community. The mission of the Good Vibes Club is to spread love, respect, acceptance, and to foster a positive, unified school environment. This student-driven club for students in grades 9-12, accepts everyone regardless of ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, culture, color, sexual orientation, or gender. MedTech students clamored for a club that’s main purpose was to demonstrate the importance of embracing diversity through acts of love and kindness to others–and they are off to a great start!
We are just along for the ride!
As advisers, we encourage our students to take the lead–and we go along for the ride! Student-members guide the club to create opportunities and experiences that stay true to the student-crafted mission. Our students have been the drivers of community outreach activities, including environmental and beach clean-up, feeding the homeless, coordinating with the Ronald McDonald House for kids with illnesses, and creating a website devoted to wellness, appropriately titled “The Chill Room”. This site features mindfulness with health and wellness resources that are accessible to the public. Student Alivia Nawrocki said, “I love it!! It will benefit students for sure and it’s super easy to follow and navigate!
On campus, our Good Vibe Club members have launched the #feelgoodfriday Message Center where students and staff can fill in a heartfelt message for someone, and it’s personally delivered to that individual. Students and staff look forward to the Good Vibes mail; it makes their day just a little bit brighter!
The Pandemic has certainly put a damper on many of the time-honored traditions in our school, but the Good Vibes Club members have jumped in to fill the empty spaces with heartfelt videos of appreciation and support, themed virtual presentations and random acts of kindness.
Dr. Nagy, Superintendent of Schools appreciates the efforts of the members and advisors. ”I am so proud of efforts such as this to provide a safe and constructive environment for students where they can learn the importance of developing positive attitudes about themselves and others while learning about self-efficacy, persistence, empathy and sense of one’s purpose. SEL is no longer an option, but a mandate to shape the power behind positive social behaviors and understanding the tools to develop positive relationships, which in turn, lowers anxiety, increases attendance and engagement while increasing academic success.”
Once life returns to the new normal of being able to gather again, and social distancing restrictions are lifted, the Good Vibes Club will turn their attention to assisting the senior citizens of the community with routine chores, sharing random messages of hope and love in community-based businesses, and developing a buddy system for incoming freshmen students with upperclassmen. Members are committed to sharing even more positivity through their community.
Good Vibes is not just a school club, it’s a movement!
Ms. Fessenbecker, an English teacher at MedTech, believes that the Good Vibes Club is not just another school club, it’s a movement that puts smiles on people’s faces and makes us like each other more–and we could all use that! It touches everyone in the school and community, not just club members. Mr. Parker, Principal, sees the benefit of the Good Vibes Club through an administrators lens. “ Structured school SEL programs can only do so much, but organic groups like the Good Vibes Club, reach every person on campus in positive and subtle ways that make a big impact!”
Since the creation of the club, membership has grown steadily. The first Good Vibes Club meeting attracted 20 students and key staff members. Today we can boast of over 50 student members. People are excited about the opportunity to be a part of such a positive club. We anticipate that this club will become a catalyst for creating a club at our sister school, as well as other schools in our communities.
If you are considering starting your own Good Vibes club in your school community, you will want to tap a representative from the various stakeholders in your school, and in your community, to brainstorm the mission and action plan for your club. You may need to seek approval from the administration and board of education. We suggest that you start with small acts of kindness and let the good vibes spread. Let students take the lead to drive the initiatives of the club–and sit back and watch the magic happen!
“Make way for the positive day
‘Cause it’s news,
News and days
New time, and if it’s a new feelin’, yeah!
Got to have a good vibe!
Bob Marley, Positive Vibrations
Christine Browridge is a co-adviser of the Good Vibes Club and is an integral part of the MedTech guidance team as an administrative assistant. Ms. Browridge is committed to ensuring that every student feels a strong connection to the school and feels seen and heard.
Jeffrey Pensabene is a co-advisor of the Good Vibes Club, Adviser of Building Men, Women of Tomorrow, and Class of 2021. Mr. Pensabene is the Student Assistant Counselor for MedTech. Jeff believes that school should be a place where students feel connected and that they belong.