When Allendale High School teacher Tiffany Harp was asked to chair a committee charged with assessing the bullying policies in their student handbook, she never imagined that a seemingly “simple task” would lead to the formation of an entirely new student support group.
Having met twice a month throughout the winter of 2013 with her team, the group successfully updated the definition of bullying, named some of the reasons that kids are bullied and provided procedures for reporting the activity. Those updates can be found here. These were important steps not only for protecting students, but for providing consistency throughout all district handbooks. Additionally their work resulted in more accessible language, making Allendale policies easier to understand.
But their work didn’t stop there.
Because Mrs. Harp had also attended conferences on bullying and desired to have an active, on-campus group to model desired behavior, she met with some students and proposed the idea of an anti-bullying group. It was there that the idea for Stand Up Speak Out was born.
“What Speak Up Stand Out means, is that we’re trying to send the message to empower bystanders, because when people are in a uncomfortable situation they kind of freeze up and do nothing. We want to encourage them to do something that they feel safe and comfortable doing– whether it is just going online and reporting it or actually saying something to a group which takes a lot of courage,” said Mrs. Harp.
Savanna Wells, pictured left, was invited to design the logo for the group which has been used to promote Stand Up Speak Out at the Annual Back to School Fair, on the Miranda Show, and at a September all-school assembly featuring Paul McMullen from TruthLocker.
Perhaps the most exciting product of the group’s work has been the creation of a PSA video to Katy Perry’s Roar. This video not only featured students from the Speak Up Stand Out group, but went on to be featured twice on Good Morning America!
One member, Elizabeth Golembiewski shared, “I think [Speak Up Stand Out] makes the students care a lot more about bullying, because I don’t think a lot of people talked about it before. Now, because of Speak Up Stand Out, they’re like, “Wait a minute–why is this not being taken care of?” Now we have this whole new initiative.” Elizabeth went on to state that bullying seems to be mostly prevalent online.
All the students involved in the group are committed to the idea of making every student feel safe and accepted at school. Jamie Egan, a junior, said that he had been bullied in the past, but after going to Mr. Remenap he’s seen a change for the better. “I realize now, though,” he shared, “…that I should have come forward sooner.”
We hope that all students will gain courage and inspiration from the work that this group and many others are doing. And for the inspiration he provided the group, Mrs. Harp wishes to thank Dr. Jonker. “He really “co-chaired” this committee and you can tell he is passionate about this and genuinely cares. It was great working with him.”