By Carra Higgins
Although one person does have the ability to make a difference, an entire group can do even more to prevent and end bullying in schools. That was the message Thursday morning at The Academy of Careers and Technology in Beckley where students have been working throughout the week to increase bullying awareness.
Students from various classes demonstrated with a parachute how strength in numbers has the ability to help their classmates and rise above bullying. After reading aloud the pledge many students signed, different classes said “One, two three. Not in our school” as they worked together to raise a parachute above their heads — a feat that would have been virtually impossible with just one person.
Careers in education teacher Susan Rice explained the students incorporated the parachute to show unity against bullying. Rice added that the pledge not only takes a stand against being a bully, but also by not being a bystander and to ensure that fellow student are protected from those who do bully.
The pledge that students signed states: “As students of The Academy of Careers and Technology, we pledge to band together to end bullying at our school. Every student has the right to come to school each day without the fear of being harassed, humiliated, or attacked. As an anti-bullying advocate, I will speak up and protect targets of bullying. School should be a safe environment. Each student has the right to an education, regardless of body shape or size, athletic ability, physical or mental challenge, popularity, religion, sexual orientation or race. Allowing a human being to be humiliated, put down, laughed at or excluded is unacceptable. From this point on, I will not be a bystander and watch in silence as bullies target and hurt another teen. Today, I make a pledge to go beyond bullying.”
Amanda Foley, an adult student in the careers in education class at ACT, explained that fellow ACT student Ashton Hylton helped get the ball rolling on the week of bullying education when she decided to make the school’s weekly newsletter about the topic. In addition to the pledge and newsletter, students in the careers in education program’s Future Educators Association club conducted a bake sale to raise money for T-shirts and bracelets, which will be given to students who signed the pledge. The T-shirts are blue, the color designated for anti-bullying efforts, and say “Not in our school.” The bracelets say “I have a right to feel safe.” Students also participated in a poster contest and the collision repair class made a windshield painted with a bully driving a car with an angel on one side and a devil on the other. The “bully” in the scene is chasing a possible victim. The windshield says “Bullying is lame, Get in the right lane,” which sends the message to be kind to others.
Foley said she thinks bullying has gotten worse over the years and “kids don’t seem to care about each other.”
Senior Kelsyia Gilbert said she’s supporting the pledge and taking a stand against bullying.
“Kids seem to do it for the heck of it or for attention,” Gilbert said. “It’s bad and it shouldn’t be in schools.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org