Staff and stu­dents ob­serve a week full of anti-bul­ly­ing themes

Staff and stu­dents ob­serve a week full of kind­ness, bully preven­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By SARA NEW­MAN snew­man@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @in­dy_­com­mu­nity

Su­per­heroes of all kinds gath­ered at Matthew Hen­son Mid­dle School Mon­day to help spread the mes­sage of us­ing the power within to spread kind­ness through­out the school.

Stu­dents and staff dressed in su­per­hero cos­tumes and clothes as part of the school’s Unity Week, five days of themes and mes­sages of anti-bul­ly­ing and be­ing friendly to each other. The week is part of Charles County Pub­lic Schools’ ini­tia­tive to curb bul­ly­ing. Each school in Charles County Pub­lic Schools, CCPS, par­tic­i­pates in the week and holds anti-bul­ly­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The school sys­tem has been par­tic­i­pat­ing sys­temwide for the past five years, ac­cord­ing to Sara K. Tay­lor, com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist for CCPS.

“[The stu­dents] have been into the over­all mes­sage and I think it makes them feel con­nected to each other,” D’An­gelo Wash­ing­ton, school coun­selor, said of the ini­tia­tive.

School coun­selors Wash­ing­ton, Neal Banken­stein and Alexan­dra Eichel or­ga­nized the week and it’s dif­fer­ent themes. Thurs­day, Oct. 13 was ded­i­cated to a pre­sen­ta­tion called “Silent Strength,” and Friday, Oct. 14 was Silent Strength Day, where stu­dents were en­cour­aged to be pos­i­tive and hand out com­pli­ments to their peers and teach­ers.

“It made for a day of pos­i­tiv­ity and feel­ing good,” Eichel said.

“I was telling the kids this morn­ing to be some­one’s hero,” Banken­stein said of Mon­day’s theme. “The month is about bully preven­tion but we want to en­cour­age those kids to be kind to oth­ers and stand up and be brave against those in­stances you see some­one be­ing bul­lied. It’s about bring­ing your su­per­pow­ers in to help oth­ers.”

“It was just a fun and en­gag­ing way for them to par­tic­i­pate and we like it too,” Wash­ing­ton said of Su­per­hero Day. “Any ex­cuse to dress up.”

Tues­day was one of the most pop­u­lar days of the week. Mix It Up Day en­cour­aged all stu­dents to branch out be­yond their usual cir­cle of friends at lunch time. Stu­dents are ran­domly as­signed colors co­or­di­nat­ing with dif­fer­ent ta­ble cloths in the cafe­te­ria de­ter­min­ing what ta­ble they will sit at, al­low­ing the stu­dents an “ex­cuse,” Wash­ing­ton said to get to know other class­mates they may not come in con­tact with oth­er­wise.

“It’s one of those things that they’re ner­vous about but they ac­tu­ally re­ally en­joy it,” Wash­ing­ton said of the stu­dents’ re­ac­tion to Mix It Up Day.

“I’ve had kids ask me if we could do that once a month be­cause they re­ally like meet­ing new peo­ple. They liked the op­por­tu­nity to talk to dif­fer­ent kids. We’re forc­ing them to do this so it wasn’t as awk­ward for them to get to know each other,” Banken­stein said.

The week cul­mi­nates to­day with Unity Day where stu­dents and staff wear or­ange, the school’s color. Stu­dents are also asked to sign a pledge to stop bul­ly­ing and spread kind­ness and specif­i­cally in­di­cate what they will do to en­cour­age unity through­out the school.

The coun­selors agreed the most dif­fi­cult com­po­nent of putting the week to­gether is find­ing the time to col­lab­o­rate to­gether to nail down the par­tic­u­lars and de­cide which each year’s dif­fer­ent days will be. Unity and Mix It Up re­main each year but the pre­sen­ta­tion and ex­tra days fluc­tu­ate from year to year.

The eas­i­est part of the week, the coun­selors agreed, is stu­dent and staff par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“The kids have been into the over­all mes­sage and I think it makes them feel con­nected to each other,” Wash­ing­ton said.

“If there’s any­thing we’re win­ning at it’s school cli­mate,” Banken­stein said. “This stuff for us is easy to through to­gether be­cause the teach­ers are al­ways on board and the kids are al­ways ex­cited about it.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Stu­dents and staff at Matthew Hen­son Mid­dle School in In­dian Head ob­served Unity Week from Thurs­day, Oct. 13 to to­day. Each day was themed some­thing dif­fer­ent to en­cour­age unity among the stu­dents and dis­cour­age bul­ly­ing.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY SARA NEW­MAN

Amaya Mitchell, 12, Olivia McNeil, 11, both of White Plains, and Shamariah Walker, 12, of Wal­dorf, dress in dif­fer­ent su­per­hero out­fits Mon­day as part of Matthew Hen­son Mid­dle School’s Unity Week. Each day was themed some­thing dif­fer­ent to en­cour­age unity among the stu­dents and dis­cour­age bul­ly­ing.

Stu­dents and staff at Matthew Hen­son Mid­dle School in In­dian Head ob­served Unity Week from Thurs­day, Oct. 13 to to­day. Each day was themed some­thing dif­fer­ent to en­cour­age unity among the stu­dents and dis­cour­age bul­ly­ing.

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