- Dunkirk City School District
Intermediate School brings awareness to mental health issues
Dunkirk Intermediate School celebrated P.S. I Love You Day 2023 in a sea of purple as students and staff highlighted mental health awareness.
DIS was one of more than 400 schools to celebrate the 13th annual P.S. I Love You Day on Friday, February 10, 2023. The observance was created in West Islip, NY in 2011 by co-founders Jaimie and Brooke DiPalma as a way to celebrate the memory of their father, Joseph DiPalma, Jr. and others lost to suicide. The last three words Brooke said to her father were I love you; thus, the inspiration for this day.
Teacher Kris Dziduch first brought P.S. I Love You Day to the Dunkirk City School District in 2013, after meeting founder Brooke DiPalma who shared her story during the ALA Empire Girls State program event, where Dziduch serves on staff.
“It is such an important message: to spread kindness, put an end to bullying, and bring awareness to mental health issues. I knew I wanted Dunkirk to be a part of this movement which has grown to reach so many people through the many years we have participated,” she said.
With the help of the school’s P.S.I Love You Day committee, and with thanks to donors Dom Polski Club and the Sons of the American Legion-Post 59, the celebration was expanded this year.
In the three weeks leading up to the event, students participated in a daily Kindness Challenge, made posters to hang in the building, shared encouraging notes with staff and classmates, wrote cards and letters to community members, made Valentine’s Cards for the Meals on Wheels program, read books about kindness, among other activities.
“We even had parents get involved in the Kindness Challenges,” said Courtney Russo, a P.S. I Love You Day committee member. “It was so great to hear all their stories.”
Last Friday, Intermediate students and faculty donned purple shirts featuring the quote “In a World Where You Can Be Anything, Be Kind.” Everyone received paper bracelets, purple ribbon stickers, and purple Hershey Kisses. Everyone was encouraged to wear purple, and every student arrived that morning to find a purple message of affirmation and encouragement on their locker. There was even a P.S. I Love You Day school store with stickers, bracelets and pencils available for purchase.
The school was decorated with a festive balloon arch, and an interactive bulletin board outside the cafeteria educated the students on kindness and mental health strategies.
“P.S. I Love You Day was everything we hoped it would be,” said Dziduch. “It was such a positive, inclusive, educational, and community-building experience for our students.”