For students at Allendale Middle School, bullying is more than an eight-letter word: it’s a problem to be taken seriously and an issue that demands education.
According to research conducted by the Allendale Middle School Leadership Team, 160,000 U.S. kids are bullied every day. However, middle school students on our campus say that while statistics may be grim across the nation, they insist that bullying in Allendale is improving thanks to initiatives like this one run under the guidance of school counselor, Mrs. Rhonda Wilson.
8th grader Brock Bardwell shared that, “Bullying has gotten better since we’ve started the anti-bullying campaign,” and Leadership Team member Lexy Wilson agreed, saying, “…kids in our school have really hit on this as something to change, and we’re already seeing a difference.”
The team members first met several weeks ago to begin planning for Anti-Bullying Week, voting on this year’s motto, “Be the Change.” To kick things off, a poster contest around the theme was promoted, with Samantha Brovant winning 1st place, Lydia Terpstra coming in 2nd, and Lindzi Gritters snagging 3rd place. Winners were voted on by teachers and were announced on Wednesday, March 27.
Other activities included sharing bullying statistics during school announcements, organizing a “sit by someone new at lunch” day, encouraging students to sign a “Bullying Pledge”, and participating in a “Post-it Poster” which gave students the opportunity to use Post-it notes to add positive thoughts to a large school-sized poster.
Students reported that “sitting by someone new at lunch” was a great experience. To help everyone strike out of their comfort zones and encourage true mixing, each student was given a colored card upon entering the cafeteria. They were then instructed to find the table where other students were seated with the same color cards. Doing so meant that lunch tables were random, fresh, and full of new friends to meet!
8th grader John Huistra revealed that, “1 in 7 students has witnessed bullying or has been bullied.” But then came the words that define the week: “Our school wants to change that.”
And changing they are: through education and activities and raising awareness. What begins as a tiny seed planted, a small kindness shown, a grace given when undeserved, hearts and minds are softened, and slowly, transformation occurs.
Margaret Mead said it best long ago: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Thank you to Mrs. Wilson and the entire AMS Leadership Team for your diligent work to change the world, one student at a time!