Loss of former student propels teacher to offer challenge of kindness

HEMET – Hemet Unified School District is a tight-knit family. Educators are given the opportunity to watch students throughout their educational journey. They see them push past what their own expectations are and test their limits to ensure their dreams become a reality. They get to help them succeed and prepare them for their futures, because an educator’s focus on student success does not end when they graduate. They are invested in their students and in helping them reach their dreams. Recently, the Hemet community lost a life all too soon, and one of Lauren Lopez’ former teachers felt the need to do something in her memory.

Chuck Wolf, a social studies teacher at Tahquitz High School, created the Lauren Challenge, in which participants are challenged to commit one random act of kindness a week. His hope is to counteract violence with kindness and maybe “change the world, one random act of kindness at a time.”

Wolf said he had a hard time after he learned of the death of his former student. He wanted to do something for her, and he refused to accept that “this is just how things go.” He said that if everyone made a conscious effort to perform one kind act every week, it could change people’s outlook and cause people to think in a more positive way.

Wolf has challenged his friends through social media, and Tahquitz staff members have started the challenge on campus. Wolf said he sees some of his friends performing their random acts of kindness and is excited for the change.

Tahquitz Principal Eric Dahlstom said administrative staff has been encouraging teachers to send positive notes about students home to parents as the site’s Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports initiative. He is excited about the prospects of the PBIS initiative coupled with the Lauren Challenge and the effect it will have on everyone on campus. A Facebook page, Lauren Challenge, has been created to help spread the word.

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