Kennedale High students create own anti-bullying program

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Simple, kind and empathetic gestures can go a long way when it comes to preventing one of the biggest issues in schools today: bullying.

That’s one of the messages students worked to spread Oct. 9 at Kennedale High School’s first Unity Day.

Julie Naughton’s peer-mentoring and mediation class came up with the idea, inspired by the message they received while working with Rachel’s Challenge, another popular anti-bullying campaign.

The class, consisting of upperclassmen throughout the school, decided to raise awareness through kindness projects for their peers and teachers. The students have been through training to learn how to become mentors for their peers, ranging from dispute settlements to counseling.

For the first Unity Day, the students donned their most vibrant orange clothing — the color associated with anti-bullying campaigns — and spread throughout the campus to every homeroom class.

Every teacher received a spirited orange pumpkin and a handful of wristbands to give to each student, inscribed with the phrases “Stop the drama. End the hate. Stomp out bullying.”

The idea of the campaign was to encourage students and teachers to sign an online petition through pacer.org, a website dedicated to preventing bullying nationwide, to pledge their dedication to the cause.

“A lot of us have been bullied personally or know people who have been bullied,” senior Lianna Rodriguez said. “So as we grow older, we say, ‘OK, even though we had to deal with that when we were young, maybe we can leave behind something so younger generations won’t have to go through it too.’”

Walking through the halls of Kennedale High School, it was easy for the students to see the impact they made as they journeyed through the sea of orange.

“It’s cool to see everyone who has started to support it,” senior Courtney Doyle said. “A lot of us helped start it at our school, so it’s cool to see the involvement.”

The class hopes to bring more awareness to the issue of bullying so it becomes something schools take more seriously. Rodriguez and classmate Amie Brown said the issue was not something often talked about in years past, but is quickly becoming a hotter topic as events like this one are made.

Naughton praised her class and noted how Unity Day would continue to inspire kindness projects throughout the rest of the school year. The class will continue to work through Rachel’s Challenge through fundraisers like the school’s upcoming “Walk in My Shoes” event promoting empathy through the school.

At the end of the day, Naughton’s class and other classrooms created slips of orange paper with personal declarations of what makes them proud to be themselves. The papers would create several chains to be used to decorate the school and remind students of the dedications they made.

“I wanted to join this class to inspire younger people who look up to us,” junior Melissa Branish said. “Days like this will really help them to grow through school.”

Anyone who wishes to become involved in the campaign can visit www.pacer.org, or contact Kennedale High School to learn more about how Naughton’s class will continue to promote the cause.

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