Wearing her pink shirt with pride eighth grade student Alyssa Santillana enters the halls of Memorial Middle School to see student after student wearing the exact same shirt. It may seem like a coincidence, but for these students it is part of a campus-wide initiative to help keep students safe.
“We want everyone to feel safe when they come to school,” said Santillana. “It’s important that they be able to be who they are and focus in class.”
The shirts are part of the first day’s activities for the school’s celebration of Anti-Bullying Week. From Feb. to Feb. 14, students, teachers, administration and staff will participate in a new activity each day to raise awareness of the different things students can do to help stop bullying on their campus.
Along with showing their support with pink shirts, students also kicked off the week with a campus-wide pep rally. This is the second Anti-Bullying Week the campus has hosted this year.
“It’s really fun,” said Bianca Lopez, seventh grade student. “Everyone really enjoys participating. There are days like Team Up Against Bullying, where we wear our favorite team’s jersey. “
The anti-bullying message doesn’t end with the week. It’s part of an ongoing program the school has implement the past four years to help encourage students to become more proactive when it comes to reporting any incidences they see on campus and learning how to identify when bullying may present, said Delia Padilla, counselor at Memorial. They do this by frequently announcing different statistics during announcements and designated one day each month as anti-bullying day. Each day showcases a different theme and assists in keeping anti-bullying awareness at the top of mind throughout the year.
“We let our students know that we don’t tolerate bullying and that there will be consequences if they choose to participate in this type of behavior,” said Padilla. “We do that by educating our students and staff about what bullying actually is and by enforcing our anti-bullying protocol. It’s a team effort, but everybody has come together to make a difference.”
Santillana shares the sentiment that it’s a team effort to help keep the school safe. She states that students can do their part by speaking up whenever they see any activity on campus.
To help this initiative grow on campus, both Santillana and Lopez are working with additional students, teachers and administrators as part of an anti-bullying committee. The committee works together to identify areas for improvement and get students’ input on ways they can help the campus become a safer place.
“It’s great to be a part of the committee, because I feel like we have a voice,” said Lopez. “We are not only saying it’s wrong to be a bully, but we are actually doing something about it. We really do promote that we want a safe campus and it’s something we share with our friends and classmates.”
With students and the staff at Memorial working together, it is no surprise that the campus has seen so much success with the program. Since its implementation, reports have bullying have significantly gone down. It’s a large step toward reaching their goal of creating a 100% bully-free campus.