The Starfish Story: Making a Difference

by Head of Lower School Meaghan Mallin
At a recent assembly, I shared The Starfish Story with your children. For anyone unfamiliar, the story (adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley), goes like this:
One day a man was walking along the beach, when he noticed a boy hurriedly picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “Young man, what are you doing?” The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” The man laughed to himself and said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said,
“I made a difference to that one.”
I used this story as the platform to introduce two key concepts to your children. The first is that no act of kindness, regardless of how small it might seem, is ever wasted. Every time we make the decision to be kind and to be a helper to others, we have a positive impact on the world. The second point I emphasized, and which particularly resonates with me from this story, is that you do not have to wait until you are grown up to make a difference. In fact, the wiser of the characters in this story is the child. I want our children to be empowered with the knowledge that they can have an impact right now on the world around them by the choices they make and the way they extend kindness to others.
At this morning’s assembly, as a follow up, I revisited The Starfish Story with your children and reiterated these points as the launch to our Lower School Catching Kindness community project. I invited your children to not only seek opportunities to be kind, but also to catch others extending kindness. Our faculty set the tone for this by sharing out moments of kindness they have witnessed on campus in recent days. In the coming weeks, we will all record acts of kindness we catch in our community and add them to our bulletin board and walls. We invite you to do the same. Please join us in this celebration of kindness!
New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.