Teens like Carter Biggers, Lincoln Sheffield, Bran Boyd, and Colton Bradley are a rare breed. Leaders in their own right, each of these young men has made a direct impact on their fair share of peers. Lately, their influence has grown to include two young friends, Josh Nichols and Mason Nash.
On an afternoon in early April, sophomore Carter Biggers happened upon a 4th grade Mason Nash, who was having a bad day. Rather than pass him by, Carter stopped to talk, and made a new friend in the process. “When I saw one of our elementary students on the playground by himself and clearly upset about something, I felt the need to check on him. In just a few minutes, I was able to find out his name and understand why he was so upset and to see his tears turn to a smile. I made a new friend that day, and even got to have lunch with him this past week where I was able to get to know him better.”
No stranger to building relationships, Carter drew from his own experiences when he met Mason that day. “There have been mentors in my life that chose to take the time to bend down, pick me up, brush me off, invest in me, encourage me, and show me love,” shared Carter. He continued, “Recently, I came across a quote from a book I was reading that made an impact on me and I felt like it summed up my experience with him, which is ‘Nothing beats kindness. It sits quietly beyond all things’ – Charlie Mackesy”.
Mason’s mother felt incredibly touched when she heard about her son’s new friend. “With all the crazy things that go on in today’s world, it was very heartwarming to hear that another student would reach out to Mason,” she admits. “As parents, we try our best to raise our children to have kindness and compassion for others, so this was such a sweet story.”
“How Carter responded to seeing Mason kind of down and a little sad is exactly what kind of person Mason strives to be,” Lindsey continued. “Mason has such a heart of gold that it really affected him to see a complete stranger reach out to him like that - he still talks about the kindness Carter showed to him.” We bet that Mason will have an opportunity to comfort a friend in need, just like his friend Carter!
Josh Nichols is easily one of the biggest Hawks Baseball fans you could ever meet. He hasn’t missed a single game, knows each player by name, and has earned himself a spot amongst the Hawks’ most passionate supporters.
Three Varsity baseball players decided it was time for the Hawks to show Josh some of the same support they have received all season. Bran Boyd said, “Colton, Lincoln and I thought it would be a great idea to go support Josh because he is always there to watch us. It means a ton to have Josh and other kids at our games, having Josh on the field before games lightens the mood and keeps the game fun.”
Lincoln Sheffield adds, “What inspired us to go to Josh's game was the fact that Josh has not missed a single one of our games this year, both at home and away. He has a great family that loves the game of baseball and will go anywhere to support the Hartfield baseball team.”
Having his own experience to draw from, Lincoln continued, “It means a lot to have kids like Josh that are looking up to all of us on the team. We were all in his shoes, just waiting to one day play high school baseball for the first time.” This group of guys surely know how to support each other!
Josh's mother, LaDonna, said of this unique relationship "(growing up as an only child in our home), the brotherhood Joshua feels when he's with the Hartfield Varsity Baseball Team is the closest thing to having older brothers that he will know in his youth. It's hard to effectively describe how such a gift like that makes me feel as a parent, other than I'm truly grateful. These guys in particular have formed the kind of bond with him that allows them to hold him relationally accountable in matters like respect for others, handling your emotions on the field, being a good role model for those who are younger than you, and having your 'brother's' back on and off the field, among other things. It's one thing for us as parents to try to instill these things in Josh, but for the older guys, the athletes he looks up to, to model it and reinforce it by example, is the icing on the cake. And Josh loves icing!"
Lower School Assistant Principal and parent to two boys in high school at Hartfield, Deanna Elliott was greatly encouraged by these stories. “I have many times observed the ways our Lower School students look up to our high schoolers. Their faces literally light up with excitement when they visit our building - it’s like they are seeing rock stars!” says Elliott
“I love that our mission and vision are focused on the whole child, academically, emotionally, and spiritually,” she says, “and I believe Hartfield works hard to build one community in our school that encompasses all grades, K3 through 12th.” This is done in many ways: having pep rally days at East Camps, sending over our athletes to greet the kids at carpool and in classrooms, allowing students to share Bible stories or foreign language lessons, to name a few. Mrs. Elliott concludes, “I believe by having all of our students interact from K3 to 12th grade, we are showing our younger students the importance of putting others ahead of themselves. At the end of the day, that is exactly what God calls us to do.”