Shawn D. Lewis / The Detroit News

AUBURN HILLS — The Avondale School District is on a mission to transform its early elementary students into bucket fillers.

Not by drawing water from wells, but simply by being nice to each other. The district hopes to use the bucket premise to develop socially responsible students who communicate with each other without resorting to bullying. Students are given an imaginary bucket that others fill with acts of kindness and empty, or dip, with mean behavior.

At a workshop at Graham Elementary School in Auburn Hills on Thursday, 20 students in Denise Delie’s fourth-grade class learned how to fill each others’ buckets. All four elementary schools in the district held the workshops throughout the afternoon.

“When you’re sad or mad, you can go fill up someone else’s bucket to make them feel better and then you’ll feel better, too,” said Nia Williams, 9 of Auburn Hills. “I can call my friend who moved away or I can play with another friend here at recess to fill their buckets.”

Superintendent George Heitsch said the project can make an impact on the bullying inside and outside of the schools.

“It is important to be a bucket-filling district because we should be building on our strengths and not our weaknesses,” Heitsch said. “We should be celebrating the successes of each other on a regular and continuing basis, and I would hope it would have students and adults stopping and reflecting before they say something negative.”

Brent Mitchell, 8, of Auburn Hills said he learned not to be a bucket-dipper.

“A bucket-dipper is a mean person who is a really big jerk to other people,” he said.

Stacey Lundgren, vice president of the family’s business, Bucketfillers for Life, based in Hamburg Township, is a trainer who travels to schools and businesses teaching the concepts. At the end of the program she had students take a vow to be bucket-fillers in all aspects of their lives.

“If you go through life with a warm and caring heart, you’ll have a happy life, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges,” she told the students. “If you live your life as a bucket filler you may feel sad for a while but then you go back out and fill someone else’s bucket and you’ll feel better.”


From left, Stacey Lundgren of Bucketfillers for Life with Nia Williams, Abrhiraj Singh, Arhama Ahmad and Christopher Keys.

Graham Elementary fourth-grader Nia Williams, 10, learns how the bucket filling works, but students are given an imaginary bucket.