Ben Seely, a seventh-grader from Crook County Middle School, broadcast a simple message: “Have a nice day!” for several weeks with his house sign

On school mornings, Ben Seely is easy to spot.

Amid a rush of middle schoolers exiting buses, he stands on the sidewalk at the southwest corner of the school property, hoisting a homemade sign with a simple message: “Have a nice day!”

This is not a school assignment. It’s not something anyone else recommended. He’s not really looking for attention. He just wants to spread positive joy.

“I want people to notice my sign, but I don’t want people to notice me,” he explained. “I’m not trying to draw all the attention to myself. I’m just trying to spread the joy of showing my sign.” Seely didn’t wake up one day planning to wave and hold it in his school. To hear him say it, he was simply bored during his bike rides between Crook County Middle School, where he is a seventh-grade student, and Crook County High School, where his sister is educated.

“I got bored, so I started shouting, ‘Have a nice day!’ to everybody.”

But it didn’t take long for him to decide to move up a gear. Wouldn’t it be cool, he thought, if there was a way to tell all the cars, even the drivers who can’t hear it? So he wrote the uplifting phrase on a piece of paper and started showing it to motorists and high school while waiting for his sister to come out.

The children began to notice this, and they suggested a way to further improve the message.

“You know what would be really cool,” they told him, “is if you highlight it – that way multiple cars could see it.”

Others suggested he put cardboard behind the paper, an idea he happily embraced – the elements had already ruined more than one sheet of paper by then. But the final upgrade came courtesy of a mother with a broken mop. She asked him to put the broken cleaning tool in the trash, but he had other ideas.

“I hit it really hard on the floor and broke off the mop piece, and I kept the stick,” he said. He got out the hot glue and tape and when he was done, his sign had a post. And now, every time he bikes to school, he brings the sign with him, hoisting it above his head as he pedals, twirling it around so motorists in either direction can read it.

Once at school, he walks to the corner, signs by hand, and calmly greets the students who pass. When he started, he didn’t get much attention. Some children smiled and waved, but over time and interest grew, people honked their horns in appreciation and children began to respond to the sign in kind.

“I get a bunch of ‘You too’ or ‘You’re having a great day! ‘” Seely said.

And more recently, her ongoing act of random kindness caught the attention of a local business who shared her photo on their Facebook page. Shortly after, the seventh-grader stood in front of a TV news camera, talking about his sign.

Through it all, he remains modest – being known among his peers as “the sign child of the news” isn’t so bad for him. But those around him see the impact and believe what he is doing is special.

Middle school special education assistant Carla Gaylor watches the after-school crosswalk on the same corner. Seely raises his sign twice a day. In 10 years at school, she hasn’t seen anything like it.

“It makes you feel good to know there’s a kid out there who wants to make other people happy,” she said. “It’s amazing what he’s doing.”

JASON CHANEY - CCMS seventh grader Ben Seely holds his house sign His teachers also took note. “I think any action that can brighten other people’s days is time well spent,” says language arts teacher Cally Modin. “No act of kindness is ever wasted. I really appreciate that he goes out of his way to be kind to others.”

And his mother, Amanda, is brimming with pride and thrilled to see her son find a way to stay positive and spread that positivity to others, even in the face of adversity.

“We haven’t always had it easy.”

Amanda shared that she’s been a single mom for a long time, noting that Ben’s biological father isn’t in the picture and doesn’t help. They never left without, she added, thanks to the help of an incredible family and supportive community, but Ben struggled at first.

“He had a lot of negative influence from his biological father. At one point his father told him that there was something wrong with him because he would have these seizures. He would cry and I would have to leave work and pick him up from school because he was just crying outside, having this big meltdown.”

About four years ago the family moved to Dayton, Oregon, a small community south of Newberg, and Ben began seeing a counselor. The twice weekly sessions made a big difference and set him on the path to the positive person he would later become. And Amanda points to another moment that seemed to shape her son.

“In 2020, the matriarch of our community passed away, and it meant a lot to her,” she recalls. “But I think that’s when I started to see a turning point in him – that life is a bit short and you have to do a bit better. He started to be more positive. ”

Ben also acknowledges the change. “I really had a transformation,” he said.

The school year will end in a few months. Ben plans to continue hoisting his sign, on the corner outside the school every morning and afternoon, and on his bike rides to and from home. He is determined not to miss a single day, no matter how cold or windy it is. One day he wasn’t feeling well and his mother offered to drive him to school or let him stay home for the day. He refused. What started as a cure for boredom turned into an activity with a real purpose.

“No,” he said. “I have to go hold my sign.”

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