“If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”

Affirmative quotes welcome Farmingville Elementary School students when they enter the bathroom, instilling in their young minds a positive attitude and creating a culture of kindness throughout the hallways.

The decal quotes were installed on the front and back of nine girls bathroom stalls and four boys bathroom stalls this summer, ushering in the new school year

“The whole reason for doing this was to reiterate the messages we try to teach inside the school, inside the classrooms, and at home — spread joy, spread kindness, be resilient,” said Vanessa Metzger, an FES parent who has two daughters at the school and has twin boys set to attend kindergarten there in the fall of 2020.

“The quotes resonate differently with each kid, which is pretty cool,” she added. “Hopefully, they use those messages with their friends at school and with their families at home.”

Metzger, a member of the school’s PTA, came up with the idea for the positive quotes in school bathrooms last year.

School administrators tasked her to take on the project in August 2018, and a year later she was sticking the quotes onto the stall doors with a group of Farmingville volunteers.

“We talked with Principal Susan Gately last year, and everybody was all for it,” she said. “It definitely took some time though. I came up with two dozen or so quotes and we went through those and discussed which ones would work best. We also had to come up with the right fonts and colors ... The reactions were really cool and we got a lot of good feedback throughout the process from teachers and staff.”

The school used the same font throughout for consistency.

In the girls bathrooms, the project’s leaders used three colors — pink, teal, purple. In the boys room, there are two colors — green and blue.

“There’s an alternate pattern with the colors,” Metzger said. “...There are some duplicate quotes, all are gender neutral.”

Someone local

Once the quotes and colors were picked, it came down to finding the right vendor to make the stickers.

“I was searching through Amazon for different vendors and I thought, “maybe there’s someone local?’” Metzger said.

She posted about the project on the Hello Ridgefield Facebook page and was pleasantly surprised when Cathy Davis, a Ridgebury school mom, responded that she could take on the job.

“She said she had a Cricut machine, which is used to make personalized images and lettering that you see on water bottles and laptops,” Metzger said. “She ended up being so awesome to work with, and we’re very grateful to her because this was a very time-consuming project. ... Cathy made all the decals for us at her home. And it’s very tedious, all the cutting. It’s really amazing what she did.”

Quotes

The project was finished in the late spring but Gately and Metzger decided not to paste the quotes on the doors at the end of the school year.

“She wanted to give them something to come back to, and I agreed,” Metzger said. “... The whole staff was really excited about it. We’re so happy that everybody wanted to do it.”

The decal quotes can be found in the bathroom stalls of the school’s third, fourth and fifth grade wing.

“And there’s more to come,” Metzger said. “Everyone is loving them so much that we’re going to put them on the bathrooms inside the kindergarten and first grade classrooms. ... We’re actually going to finish that project Tuesday. All the teachers want them.”

 The quotes on the stall doors are:

 You are AMAZING just the way you ARE

 When given the choice between right and kind, always choose KIND

 If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours

 There’s only one you in this great big world, make it a better place

 Be good to people for no reason

 Do the right thing even when nobody was looking

 Don’t wish for it, look for it

 Mistakes are proof you are trying

 Be the reason someone smiles today

“The quotes vary in length and we wanted them to all be proportionate so we measured each door to make sure that the font size was larger on the shorter ones and smaller on the longer ones,” Metzger said. “A few PTA moms got together with me in August to help apply them. It wasn’t easy. We had to lay everything out on the floor and then apply it. Once we got the first one down, it started to moving faster. But you have to be careful because you don’t want to peel the sticker too quickly.”

Sharing is caring

The positive word of mouth surrounding bathroom quotes project has spread so rapidly throughout Farmingville that other schools have already called Metzger to see if they could borrow the idea and if she could help them implement it.

It’s not bad start for someone who’s never spearheaded a project like this one.

“I’ve been on other PTA committees but this is my first big project,” Metzger said. “I try to help out where I can, I coach my kids’ soccer teams so I feel like I always have many hats on.”

Metzger is eager to share the positive affirmation quotes with other Ridgefield schools.

“We’ve gotten calls from Ridgebury and Veterans Park saying, ‘we want to do something like this,’” Metzger said. “... It really exceeded everyone’s expectations. From the very beginning, we’ve received good input from the families and the teachers. And now, to see other schools wanting to do it, it’s really just cool. I’d love to see it in all the schools in our district — why not?”