2022 Amazing Kids - Prineville
School: Crook County Middle School
WHY HE IS AMAZING: He has committed to spreading cheer by holding a ‘Have a nice day!’ sign at school each morning and afternoon.
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
IT IS A POSITIVE SIGN
Ben Seely didn’t wake up one day planning to make a sign and hold it up at his school.
To hear the seventh-grader tell it, he was simply getting bored during his bike rides between middle school and the high school where his sister attends.
“I got bored, so I started yelling, ‘Have a nice day!’ to everybody.”
But it wasn’t long before he decided to take it up a notch. He chose to write the uplifting phrase on a piece of paper and started holding it up at motorists and his sister’s high school. Kids began to notice and suggested a way he could further enhance the message.
“You know what would be really cool,” they said to him, “is if you highlighted it. That way, multiple cars could see it.”
He later backed the paper with cardboard to help it hold up against the elements, and the final upgrade came courtesy of a mom with a broken mop. She asked him to take the busted cleaning tool to the trash. Seely, however, had other ideas.
“I banged it on the ground really hard and broke off the mop piece, and I kept the stick,” he said. He got out the hot glue and the duct tape, and when he was all done, his sign had a post.
Once he reaches the school, he heads for the corner, sign in hand, and quietly greets students as they pass. People honk car horns in a show of appreciation, and kids respond to the sign.
“I get a bunch of ‘You too’ or ‘You have a nice day!’” Seely said.
And more recently, his actions caught the attention of a local business that shared his picture on its Facebook page. Not long after, the seventh-grader was standing in front of a TV news camera.
Through it all, he remains modest. But those around him see the impact and believe what he is doing is special.
Carla Gaylor, a special education assistant at the middle school, supervises the crosswalk after school at the same corner Seely hoists his sign. In 10 years at the school, she hasn’t seen anything like it.
“It makes you feel good to know that there is a kid out there who wants to make other people feel happy,” she said. “It’s amazing what he does.”
His teachers have also taken notice. “No act of kindness is ever wasted,” says language arts instructor Cally Modin. “I really appreciate that he is going out of his way to be kind to others.”
And his mom, Amanda, is bursting with pride and pleased to see her son finding 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 has been a single mom for a long time, noting that Ben’s biological father is no longer in the picture.
“He has had a lot of negative influence from his biological father,” she said. “I would have to leave work and go pick him up from school because he was just crying outside, having this big fit.”
A few years ago, Ben began seeing a counselor. The twice-a-week sessions helped set him on the path to the positive person he has become. And Amanda points to another moment that seemed to mold her son.
“In 2020, the matriarch of our community passed away, and it hit him really hard,” she recalls. “But I think that was when I started to see a turn in him — that life is kind of short, and you need to do a little bit better. He started being more positive.”
Ben recognizes the change as well. “I’ve really had a transformation,” he said.
The school year will conclude in a couple more months, and Ben plans to keep hoisting his sign. He is determined not to miss a single day. One day he wasn’t feeling well, and his mom offered to drive him to school or let him stay home for the day. He declined. What started as a cure for boredom had turned into an activity with real purpose.
“No,” he said. “I gotta go hold my sign.”