SAUK RAPIDS - Making a difference can start with something as simple as an encouraging note.

Sauk Rapids-Rice 7th grader Emma Johnson, along with over 20 of her classmates, brought a positive message to their school by leaving post-it notes with encouraging messages on everyone’s locker.

Dan DeBaun, WJON
Dan DeBaun, WJON

The notes were left in February as a tie-in with school Unity Day. Johnson says she was inspired to leave the notes after hearing about something similar being done at her elementary school.


"The biggest things you can do are the small things because if we all do a few small things, it makes just such a huge difference," Johnson says.

Principal Nate Rudolph says the messages had a huge impact. Adding that Emma was also considerate of the custodial staff: she didn't want to leave behind hundreds of notes for them to clean up.

"Emma originally came to me and just had this idea and wanted to put good in the world. She wanted to take a small step to do something kind for others."

The act of kindness received national attention. International speaker Kevin Honeycutt saw a photo of the lockers on Twitter and retweeted the message.

Johnson says her favorite quote is: "be the change you wish to see in the world" by Mahatma Gandhi. She recently wrote an editorial for the Sauk Rapids Herald based on this quote, emphasizing kindness and making a difference.

"I've always had a passion for wanting to change the world because there are so many problems and so many issues, we tend to focus on that. But I think we can focus on the positives."

She knows middle school can be a challenging time and loved being able to brighten a few days. In the future, she has interest in becoming a writer, teacher or a nun.

"Your passions and your life to make a positive, that will make things so much easier. Middle school can be a really fun time."

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