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Sharing a smile: how Ken-Ton students are brightening days in Kenmore

“We just wanted to make people smile"
Posted at 5:25 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 09:19:17-04

KENMORE, NY (WKBW) — Handmade smiley faces are popping up on along several streets in the Village of Kenmore.

Students placed a smiley face ornament on a tree along Crosby in Kemore.

The ornaments are hanging from some trees, made with love and kindness from Kenmore high school students.

Their teacher says they’re calling this project “Miles of Smiles”.

The ornaments are round, wooden, hand painted ornaments, with smiley faces, now adorn some trees around Kenmore.

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Shauntelle Doerr, 17, student.

“I think these smiles would really make peoples day. It made mine, when I kept making them,” remarked Shauntelle Doerr, 17, student.

“You're doing this for other people and it makes them feel great, but it makes you feel great,” explained Eileen Krause, 15, student. “After doing this, I feel ten times better.”

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Eileen Krause, 15, student.

The ornaments are being made by students enrolled in theBig Picture Program in the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District.

Principal Kevin Kruger says it's an innovated high school developed for students who don't fit the traditional high school model.

Principal Kevin Kruger.

“So to see them pour out their hearts on to these wood cookies and make little ornaments and share them with the community is really — coming from the heart for them,” Kruger noted.

Teacher Michelle Phillips brought the project to the classroom, asking her students to create smile face ornaments to help lift spirits in the Kenmore community.

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Teacher Michelle Phillips.

“We just wanted to make people smile and that was our mission,” reflected Phillips.

As students are making these smile faces, they're also including some very important messages.

“Life is like a roller coaster, but it's always fun at the end and I also wrote that even on your bad days — there's good in it,” recited Reilly Pawlak, 14, student.

Smiley ornaments on trees in Kenmore.

“What have you written on them?”, asked Buckley.

“I wrote I love you and you are a star,” responded Doerr.

Student writes message on ornament.

“I wrote you're amazing, you're loved, you look great — just stuff I would want some one to say to me,” Krause replied.

“What would you say has been the most powerful message that has been written on one of those?”, Buckley questioned.

“Smile today is a really important message because happiness is a choice. I try to tell the kids that sometimes you have to choose to be happy — it doesn't always happen automatically,” Phillips answered.

Smiley ornaments on trees in Kenmore.

The Kenmore community is noticing.

Phillips says she is overwhelmed to see the reactions on a Facebook page called “What’s Up Kenmore?” with posts saying the ornaments are making people smile, some wanted to know if they would be coming to their street and others even offered to help pay for the supplies to make more.

“I was overwhelmed at the generosity of the community,” said Phillips.

Students making the ornaments.

Phillips said the national school program, Big Picture, is paying for all the supplies.

“When you see people like this saying oh my gosh, these are amazing — these made my day — ‘how can we help’ — it makes you feel good,” Krause remarked.