Suzanne Middle School Students Rally Against Bullying

The event was for "I Will Not Be a Bystander" Week.

More than 1,500 Suzanne Middle School students took a stand against bullying recently.

Wearing special customized t-shirts, the entire campus gathered on the basketball courts during advisement period Sept. 28.

Teacher advisors Helen Papadopoulos (Drama), Marla Rickard (PALS – Peer Assistance Leadership Students), and Kristi Natividad (Leadership) organized events for “I Will Not Be a Bystander” Week and the drama, leadership and PAL students facilitated discussions in homerooms.

Each student wore a white shirt printed with “I will not stand for…” and they completed the sentence to make their own pledge to stomp out something negative in their life, said Rickard.

At exactly at 7:45 a.m. they all sat down in unison showing that they wouldn’t “stand” for it.

And as they sat, they proudly showed their peers what specifically they won’t tolerate.

With "bullying" being the term to describe many negative behaviors in schools today, the staff and students at Suzanne Middle School took it upon themselves over 5 years ago to develop their own anti-bullying campaign.

With the focus being on the bully so much of the time we know that the problem would not be as widespread if the bystanders stood up and allowed their voices to be heard,Rickard said.

During theschool’s “I Will Not Be a Bystander Week”, Drama, PALS, and Leadership students were trained to educate their peers through video clips and power points onwhat a bystander should do if a problem arises.  

The school-wide event held on Friday took the program to the next level.

Leadership teacher Kristi Natividad was inspired to bring the activity to the campus after viewing a similar activity online through "Characters Unite".  

All children need to understand that lives can and will be changed if just one person stands up for what is right and won't stand for injustice of any kind.  

“When our 1,500 students make their own public pledge, it will be a memory that will last a lifetime,” said Rickard.

Kayli Brown, 8th grader said, “I think it will remind everyone not to be a bystander and that they need to do something to make a difference."

--Walnut Unified School District


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