North Hills Middle School students take stand against bullying
North Hills Middle School students showed their true colors when it comes to bullying.
They wore orange Oct. 25 to observe Unity Day, a time for students across the country to show support to those who experience bullying and to promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
Jessica Rodney, a seventh-grader from Ross, was bullied from the time she was in kindergarten until the time she started third grade.
“It made me feel horrible,” she said. “I cried a lot.”
Last year, seventh-grader Maria Geraci, 12, of West View experienced bullying from a group of girls.
“It started off verbally, but then it got physical,” she said. “We had to file a police report.”
These episodes made Rodney and Geraci more sensitive to others who are bullied.
“Everyone should stick together and stand up for each other,” Geraci said.
North Hills School District addresses the issue of bullying throughout the year in all of its school buildings.
“We talk about how to be the voice of change. We discuss and practice what students can do in various situations. A lot of times, students don't do anything because they don't know what to do,” explained Middle School Assistant Principal Jason Beall.
“Actions can be as simple as walking away, because when you walk away, you diminish the bully's audience, and the audience is what feeds the bully to continue the bullying,” he added.
All 650 middle school students were given the opportunity to add their thumb print to a Unity Tree, which will be hung in the school lobby to serve as a pledge against bullying.
“More than one of every five school-aged children report being bullied,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, which sponsors Unity Day and founded National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006. “It's important these students know they are not alone and that they have the right to feel safe. By joining together and wearing orange on Unity Day, we can send the unified message that we care about student's physical and emotional health and that bullying will no longer be accepted in this society.”
Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.