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Ridgefield Park Teacher Spotlights 'Hidden Heroes'

Sarah Carlson was recognized as a Hidden Hero.
Sarah Carlson was recognized as a Hidden Hero. Photo Credit: Michele O'Marra
Michele O'Marra started the "Hidden Heroes" program at Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School.
Michele O'Marra started the "Hidden Heroes" program at Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School. Photo Credit: Michele O'Marra

RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — Other students rushed past a student to their classes at Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School last month after his bag ripped open and his books spilled to the floor.

Not Sarah Carlson.

The 10-grader stopped and help him pick them up.

It is for acts of random, everyday kindness like this that Carlson's homeroom teacher, Michele O'Marra, launched the "Hidden Heroes" program.

"In high school we spin our wheels trying to problem-solve for students who have issues and end up overlooking the good kids," said O'Marra, who has taught at RPJSHS for 37 years. "I think we need to herald kids who are just nice people. They deserve an accolade for that."

The idea came to O'Marra during a Saturday afternoon at the nail salon.

"There was a show on the TV in the salon called 'Hidden Heroes,' and it was all about honoring random acts of kindness," the English teacher said.

O'Marra brought the idea to her 10th-grade homeroom class in February. She encouraged her students to pay attention to which of their fellow classmates acted benevolently and then cast a ballot nominating them as a Hidden Hero.

Carlson was the first winner. O'Marra awarded her with a goodie bag, a picture in the guidance gallery and an announcement over the loudspeaker.

Now O'Marra wants to expand the program.

"I think this would be a good thing to implement in all my classes," she said. "Maybe other teachers will decide to use it in their homeroom as well."

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