Students at Jones and Hastings middle schools kicked off PAW (Positive Attitude Wins) Day Nov. 24 with a presentation from Alex Sheen on the importance of keeping promises.

Students at Jones and Hastings middle schools kicked off PAW (Positive Attitude Wins) Day Nov. 24 with a presentation from Alex Sheen on the importance of keeping promises.

Sheen is the founder of the "because I said I would" program.

Students filled out promise cards for the event, with written promises such as, "I will help with special needs kids -- because I said I would" or "I will help my elderly neighbor rake leaves -- because I said I would." The cards are written in ink, because "pen is permanent," Sheen said.

"The students were incredibly receptive," he said. "I think we are all trying to create our own identity, especially at that age, and the promises we make will define us.

"I think the students at Upper Arlington really understood that. They came up to me afterwards and told me about some of their struggles, including the loss of loved ones and promises to quit destructive habits like self-mutilation.

"I was impressed by how seriously they took the message," he said.

Sheen said the promise cards students write are "a symbol of their honor."

"I encourage them to give their promise to someone to show their dedication," he said. "Once they fulfill that promise, they earn the card back.

"Conversely, students can also keep the promise card in a prominent place as a reminder of the importance of their word."

Jones teacher Molly Miely said "you could hear a pin drop" during Sheen's presentation.

"That doesn't happen often with a group of 750 middle school students in one auditorium," she said. "Alex is a warm, likable and genuine guy who cares about others and it was easy to see that the students sensed that."

She said students gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech.

"Alex had a few minutes after the presentation to speak to students individually and some students handed him letters, some just wanted to shake his hand or have him answer a question," she said. "Alex spoke to each student personally."

Teacher Karl Kirkpatrick, coordinator of Jones' PAW Day, said the day focuses on being positive by having students participate in dodgeball/crab soccer and chair volleyball; Kahoot, a computer game similar to Jeopardy; teamwork activities; and self-selected one-hour sessions of chess, euchre, Pictionary, Boggle, Scrabble, computer challenges, making blankets, charades and other activities.

"What was impressive about PAW Day was seeing the students enjoy the opportunity to have a different school experience, which allowed them to work with others in a positive manner, utilizing teamwork and communication," he said.

He said teachers gave out yellow tickets to students they thought were demonstrating a positive attitude.

Miely said teachers help students learn that the positive attitude needed for PAW Day is intended for every day at Jones.

"I was impressed to see students having fun while also instinctively upholding a positive attitude," she said. "I am impressed and happy to know that Jones is naturally a positive, kind and caring community."

Sheen said his goal is to help students "better humanity."

"Technology, money and laws can only get us so far," he said. "If we are going to truly better this world, we each need to make a commitment. Whether that is ending bullying, staying away from drugs or just taking their dog for more walks, these students sounded like they were ready to make a promise."

Sheen has a website at becauseisaidiwould.com and is on Facebook at becauseisaidiwould.