I have a story to share with you about just a small number of students who really made a difference in their school.
We had visited the school last year and presented our ‘Stand Up For Respect’ assemblies to all the students. Apparently, some really got the message:
After seeing what they referred to as ‘too much meanness and too much bullying’, five students decided to set up a ‘Stand Up For Respect’ club.
At first, only about a dozen students came to the weekly meetings, but then word started to spread that some cool stuff was happening at the meetings and those students were starting to get noticed. They were speaking up and setting examples that made some positive impact.
After two months, between thirty and forty students were attending the meetings.
They spent their time making posters at some meetings. (The principal let them put the posters up around the school.)
Then they decided to record some commercials that could play on the school announcements.
One student suggested they work on a design for t-shirts, so they starting coming up with different designs. They thought it would make sense to get more people involved, so they put their t-shirt ideas up in the front hall of the school and let everybody vote on their favourite. Then there would be a draw, and one of the voters would win a ‘Stand Up For Respect’ t-shirt.
One week the students were able to get permission to have their meeting in the school computer lab, and they did research on-line. They found videos about showing respect and they decided to ask if they could show some at a school assembly. They had other ideas for the assembly as well. They thought it would be cool to do a skit about stopping bullying by being respectful and standing up against bullying.
They knew that a lot of kids in their school liked music, so they decided to make up some songs about respect.
More and more ideas came together and they thought they could do the assembly for students and maybe do another one at night for parents and kids.
The ‘Stand Up For Respect’ meetings had to start happening in the gym, because more than 130 students were coming on a regular basis, along with seven or eight teachers who were helping out.
They started a contest which each class could participate in called Respect Elect (ric).
Classes could think of a way to decorate their door on the topic of respect, but they had to use bright electric colours. Then the ‘Stand Up For Respect’ club would ‘elect’ the door they thought had the most impact. A picture was taken of every door and the pictures were put on the school website. The winning class got a pizza party. (The local pizza restaurant donated the pizza!)
Parents phoned the school and talked about how impressed they were that the school was being so active to encourage respect.
Just a little story about one school community that really got on board to make some great changes.
Bruce Langford is an anti-bullying advocate who presents bullying prevention assemblies and keynote addresses.