Eric's Heroes: How the world becomes a better place, one middle school 'hello' at a time
SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- It's 7 a.m. and the morning light begins to repaint Inglewood Middle School.
Belle Schmidt is one of the earliest arrivals. Her friend, Abby McNeer, a year younger, isn't far behind.
And every morning, the two of them do the sweetest thing.
Belle holds open one door, Abby the other, and they go to work.
"Morning Jack! How's football going? Have a great day!"
"Morning Jordan! How are you? Have a great day."
They stand there and greet every kid that walks through the door.
"I think I've been doing it since...January?" Belle wondered.
"She started a week before I did," Abby says.
They throw out little compliments, they give high-5's.
Their smiles and kind words are for everybody: The popular and the not-so-popular; the brains and the jocks and the band kids; the bright, outgoing students; the shy, withdrawn students too.
The kids who are floating through life, sure of themselves and happy; the kids who feel alone and unsure.
There are no boundaries to Belle and Abby's greetings. They are for everyone.
"I want to make people feel better and they feel welcome in the school and like they're a part of something," Belle said. "And I think by doing this, it really does that!"
It started as a project for Belle in Sally Rusk's leadership class.
"She's choosing to do it because she thinks it will make other people happy, feel better, feel more included, feel more loved," Rusk said.
So Belle started. And within a week, Abby joined in.
"Also, it makes us feel better too," Abby said. "And we feel energized about the day..."
Something has changed at Inglewood; these days it seems like hardly anybody is too cool for school.
"I think it just makes you feel like it's going to be a good day when you walk in," said one girl as she entered.
Belle will be going to high school next year and she'll take her bright spirit elsewhere.
"I don't know, I don't really want to say goodbye," Belle said. "But yeah, I guess I will have to say goodbye, and just wish them all a good year next year."
This past Thursday was the last day of the school year, and there they were, one last time.
"It's just bittersweet, and it's just kind of sad that I have to let go of this," Belle said.
And at the end of the day, the 8th graders all marched away from Inglewood Middle School for the last time. And there were hugs and some tears. And as the school buses pulled out, full of happy kids, free at last... there were the girls standing alongside all the teachers, waving and cheering, making kids feel good, like they're a part of something -- right to the end.
When the last bus pulled away, Belle and Abby shared a moment. Something was ending.
And, something was beginning too. Belle's work at Inglewood is done. Abby will take it from here, and then maybe she'll hand it off to someone else. And so on. And so on.
And that, my friends, is how the world becomes a better place.
Editor's Note: "Eric's Heroes" is a weekly series airing every Wednesday on KOMO News in the 6 p.m. newscast. If you have a good story about a good person doing good things for the right reasons, share it with Eric by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.