Cetronia Elementary School's act of "kindness"—a peace painting created with the thumbprints of its students and staff—has made its way to Newtown Public Schools in Connecticut.
Cetronia school officials learned in an email last week that the painting is currently being displayed in the Newtown Public Schools Central Office until a decision is made on the future Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"I was actually very surprised," said Hardy, who figured the painting might be put in a storage area for some time since Sandy Hook has likely been inundated with cards, paper snowflakes and other symbols of support following the shooting tragedy there.
"What a beautiful creation of thumbprints!" wrote Newtown schools special projects coordinator Joanne Morris, who sent a photo of the schools' superintendent standing next to the painting. "Please thank all the students and staff of Cetronia Elementary School for their thoughtfulness and kindness."
Shaken by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Cetronia Elementary School staff and students had sent the Peace Painting as a gift earlier this year. Hardy had pitched the idea to her school principal as teachers and parents searched for a way to help the Sandy Hook community to heal after the mass shooting.
"We were all just shaken by the whole incident. It was just too close to home," said Hardy, her voice breaking with emotion as she thought of the 6- and 7-year-olds and school officials who had been killed.
The painting depicts a white dove against a vivid blue backdrop, and it was created with the thumbprints of all 526 students—plus staff—at Cetronia Elementary School in South Whitehall. The school's students are from South Whitehall and Upper Macungie.
The dove, she said, is "a universal symbol of peace." She hopes the painting brings smiles to the faces of those who view it, adds color to the school's space and is soothing to those aware of the dove's meaning.
Sensitive to what parents chose to share, or not share, with their children about the tragedy, the project was presented to students as "an act of kindness" for another elementary school. Some of her older students had guessed where the painting was going, but she encouraged them to talk with their parents if they had questions or wanted to know more.
Hardy had sketched the painting, then directed the students as to where to put their thumbprints, which had been dipped in acrylic paint.
Along with the painting, Hardy has made a personal New Year's resolution too to perform 26 acts of kindness, in memory of the 20 children and six staffers killed at Sandy Hook, and she told the students about some of the things she had done, such as bringing breakfast to a homeless man and leaving a WaWa gift card taped to a gas pump. (The "26 Acts of Kindness" has been an online campaign following the tragedy.)
Hardy included a note, explaining the gift, when the painting was mailed about a month ago to the Newtown Public Schools administration center.
Once a decision has been made to the future home of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Morris wrote in her e-mail to Hardy, the painting will be moved there for permanent display.