Starting with the whole school wearing blue on World Day of Bullying Prevention on October 1 through taking the "No Place for Hate" pledge at an assembly on November 1, Colonial Elementary School (CES) hosted many activities to encourage students to be kind and respect each others' differences during National Bullying Prevention Month.
In Morning Meetings and classrooms lessons with the school counselors, the students talked about stereotypes and prejudices, as well as what to do when you see someone being bullied.
"We learned about bystanders and upstanders," said Olivia Patete, a fourth grade student at CES. "You want to me more of an upstander, because then you stick up for people that are being bullied, and you're telling a teacher right away."
"Kids are really open minded, and we just need to give them more opportunities to have conversations about these issues," said Kylene Phillips, Assistant Principal at CES. "They are very comfortable in these discussions — often more so than the adults."
The children also participated in "Mix-It-Up Mondays" in the cafeteria, where they sat with children they didn't know and were given "conversation starters" to get to know the new people at their tables. Messages coming from several different directions kept the idea of acceptance and bullying prevention in the front of their minds.
"The posters around the hallways really stuck with me, because they mean a lot," said CES fifth grader Kenan Serbest. "Some kids out there get bullied, and it hurts them. We need to stomp that out."
Making CES "No Place for Hate"
The month of activities is the first of three projects that will help Colonial Elementary join Colonial Middle School and Plymouth Whitemarsh High School as designated "No Place for Hate" schools. No Place for Hate is a program developed by the Anti-Defamation League to encourage schools to actively target bias, bullying and hate in order to create a positive school climate where children and learn and thrive.
"No Place for Hate means you enter your school and no one's going to be hating here and no one's going to be bullied here," said CES fourth grader Molly Cooper. "Everyone's going to be happy."
At the No Place for Hate Assembly on November 1, some students shared what they learned in the past month with the rest of the student body, and others were recognized for doing kind things. Teachers also took turns reading a book about acceptance. After the children took the No Place for Hate pledge, some of the teachers took the stage to perform the song "This Is Me" from the Greatest Showman. During the last chorus, students and staff shared some of their unique talents and interests like playing the bagpipes or being able to spin a basketball on their finger.
"No Place for Hate is a little bit more than just a focus on kindness. It's kindness as a start, but then you need to really appreciate the differences that exist among all of us," said Assistant Principal Kylene Phillips. "We want students to feel comfortable being exactly the person that they are. We all have unique hobbies, interests, talents and skills, and we shouldn't be afraid to talk to others or show on the outside that those are things that we like to do."
To help keep encouraging students to better understand each other as a method to combat bullying — and work toward the No Place for Hate status, CES will continue to have monthly Mix-It-Up days in the cafeteria and will be planning to additional large scale activities to combat prejudice and hate.