When seniors Jamal Stacey and Gelvinn Pluas helped a fellow Falcon, the young men never expected the events that followed. Like all kind acts, this small gesture went a long way: it traveled from Timber Creek’s cafeteria to Independence Elementary School.
The lunch period is a highly anticipated 30-minute break in an eight hour school day. Some students use it as a time to catch up on homework, others relax and spend time with their friends, bell to bell. In this block, Stacey and Pluas were eating and enjoying themselves just as they have every day before. However, this day turned out to be different than others.
Having a tasty meal in your lunchbox leaves a bitter-sweet feeling: you are happy to have it, but not as happy that you have to wait until lunch to eat it. Prepared with patience, a student had brought homemade food to enjoy at school.
After microwaving his food in a glass container, he promptly retrieved it. Unfortunately, the glass tupperware was hotter than anticipated and burned his hands. This led him to drop the bowl on the floor, along with his lunch for the day.
The cafeteria erupted into a unanimous laughter. At first, Stacey and Pluas slightly contributed to the roar, however, felt uneasy about the situation. They stopped and realized that no one else was trying to help him. So Stacey and Pluas took it upon themselves to be those people. They approached the young student and offered to buy him a new meal from the lunch line.
When explaining why they felt a connection to the student who they have never met before, Stacey suggests an alternative perspective of the entire situation.
“Wouldn’t you want someone else to help you if you were in that situation? You wouldn’t want everyone to just laugh at you, you would hope that someone would stand up for you and help you out.” Stacey said.
The moment was shared by Timber Creek coach Lonnie Judd on Twitter, leading to hundreds of likes on the platform.
— Lonnie Judd (@LLCooljudd) August 29, 2018
According to Psychology Today, the Bystander Effect “occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening” in dire situations. This means that while others are around, a person may act differently in high-intensity events than they would if they were alone. The Bystander Effect may come into play anywhere or anytime- including a cafeteria full of hundreds of students.
Therefore, Pluas proposed a simple solution. “If you can do something about it, do it.” Pluas said.
The seniors soon took a trip to Independence Elementary School and were encouraged to share their story. With this, they hoped to inspire the next wave of students to take the initiative and lend a hand when they can.
It’s @kisdROCK Wednesday @Independence_ES. Thanks to Gelvinn and Jamal from @TCHSTalon and #FalconFamily for sharing their story of showing kindness and inspiring our Mavs to do the same for one another. pic.twitter.com/MjBUzMi84u
— Mark T. Basham (@PrincipalDad) September 5, 2018
“The cool thing to do is not just laugh because everyone else is doing it,” Stacey said. “The cool thing to do is be the bigger person and help out those who are in need.”