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  • James Bowles, Rock Ridge High School

Out of the Kindness Of Someone Else’s Heart

Two People Making Heart Hands with sun in background

After a week of neglecting to look at my school email, I got a random burst of anxiety to go check it; I found the usual: group reminders, grade updates, an email from Mrs. Esper. Wait, an email from Mrs. Esper? It had been about a month since I'd last seen her, so it was a welcome surprise to hear, or read, something from her. I looked over the article and got something unexpected: I got an award. A joint effort behind my back by Elizabeth Esper and Melissa Waas to write an entire essay to a foundation I haven’t heard of before.

Of course, my first reaction was to send Melissa a text confronting them about this scheming; of course, she had “no idea” what I was talking about. So there I was, learning about an award I was getting for the first time and that said award was going to be given to me in about a week. I was feeling a mixture of things, gratitude towards those Esper and Waas for doing all this work in the first place, peeved that they were able to do this all behind my back, and hesitation at getting this award in the first place.

I was beyond thankful that they went through all this trouble to get it for me, but I was unsure if I even deserved it; an award for what, being kind? I didn’t see myself as that, there were dozens of other people I knew personally who I thought would be a better fit for it: Melissa, Aarohi, Tanishka, Alexis, Lucian, Nidhi, Dillon, the list goes on. 

The days following the ceremony I just remember repeating in my head “I did nothing to deserve this.”

When Thursday rolled around and the ceremony happened, I wasn’t expecting much of it; the people I expected were there: my family, Esper, Waas, etc. What I wasn’t expecting was someone, I’m not naming who, roping in one of my teachers into the award ceremony with their entire class in tow. What started as a small little get together turned into an actual ceremony; I was tricked once again.

Throughout this entire time, I couldn’t shake that feeling that I still didn’t deserve this award. Why did I get it instead of all these people who showed up for the ceremony? 

Well, that feeling washed away as I heard part of the essay Esper and Melissa wrote; to say I was and still am thankful would be an understatement, I was at a loss for words. I know this essay was to speak about how I felt receiving the award, but there was only one feeling I had: joy, out of the kindness of someone else’s heart.

James Bowles is a graduating senior from Rock Ridge High School Class of 2024. James is a Winner of the 2024 Heart of Humanity Scholarship Award for his support of a peer going through a difficult time with their mental health.


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