By Emily Williams
Whether pumping your gas or taking a walk in Vestavia Hills, keep your eyes peeled for colorfully painted rocks, and you just might become part of a student art project.
Each nine weeks, Vestavia Hills High School art teacher Suzie Newbill gives her students a task that is “just for fun.” This quarter her Art I students painted kindness rocks and hid their stones throughout Vestavia Hills.
“Painted rocks are a fun trend in a lot of cities,” Newbill said. “I haven’t seen them in Vestavia Hills, and my students thought it would be fun.”
The only requirements for the project were to be creative, be colorful and include an uplifting message.
“We discussed what would brighten our days if we were to find one,” Newbill said. “The designs ranged from simple bright colors to funny designs, like fried eggs and a partially eaten hotdog.”
Once the students were finished with their rocks, they were asked to place them somewhere in the city in the hopes they would be found by someone and brighten that person’s day.
“The students were required to email me a picture of the location, so I have seen all sorts of creative places,” Newbill said.
She did feel the need to stipulate that the rocks should not be placed in a spot that might put the rock finder in danger. There won’t be any need to climb a tree or trek into the middle of the street to find a stone.
Though this project isn’t technically challenging, the lesson in the kindness rocks is all about sharing art.
“Some students were very proud of their creations, and it was hard to just give them away,” Newbill said. “We talked about the importance of generosity and being kind. That being said, kindness is not scarce among the Vestavia kids.”
The project has received acclaim from community members on social media, with commenters discussing their desire to find a rock and rock finders noting where they found one.
That feedback and the compliments from the community have thrilled the students, Newbill said.
“I have noticed that they are taking their work more seriously now and are anxious to show it,” she said.
Once a rock is found, the finder can choose to keep the stone or carry on the fun and hide it for someone else. Newbill already has noticed that one particular rock has been found by three different people.
When asked how they felt about the project, a few of Newbill’s students had this to say:
• “I am so happy we were able to use our kindness rock project to connect with the community. I never thought it would get this big!” Caroline Owens, 11th grade
• “The rock project was very enjoyable. It contained artistic skills while promoting positivity.” Adrian Lopez, 11th grade
• “One thing we learned from this project was that even little things like a rock with a message can brighten someone’s day. Not to mention, this was a blast!” Will Kyle, 11th grade
• “I learned that something as simple as a painted rock can make people happy. My hotdog rock might change someone’s life.” John Wilson Dorlon, ninth grade