The students at Concord Middle School — both Peabody and Sanborn buildings — wrapped up a three-day anti-bullying campaign today, in which students and staff all pledged to “Stand Together.”
The CMS Stands Together program is an extension of the nationally recognized Bully Proof curriculum. CMS Stands Together was designed especially for CMS students by Concord teachers Sarah Oelkers, Kim Cyr, Kari Kibler, Maria McDermott and Dan Murphy.
CMS Principal Lynne Beattie said the program aimed to help in “developing a kind community; a caring community,” both inside and out of school.
From Monday through today, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders participated in activities and roll-playing exercises, as well as enjoyed presentations and performances from acts such as Haley Reardon and Mojo B, all geared toward highlighting the different faces of bullying, and teaching students how to avoid and prevent bullying in their surroundings.
For some students, the program was a real eye-opener to the reality of bullying.
Seventh-graders Emma Poulin and Kristina Webster were student leaders in the CMS Stands Together program, and each learned some valuable lessons.
“You should think before you speak because you might not mean to bully, but it might come out the wrong way,” Poulin said.
Both students agreed it is important to foster a positive sense of community.
“We don’t want anyone to get bullied,” Webster said, “because then we’ll have a better community together.”
Art teacher Rachel Plante said the student activities have really opened people up to one another.
“I feel like the walls are down these last few days,” Plante said. “There’s definitely kids that I’ve seen step up and out of their shell.”
One of the most poignant activities, Plante said, had students relating their own stories of being bullied.
“The story sharing was really big,” Plante said. “This environment calls for that kind of sharing between students and teachers.”
The program’s culminating event had students writing “I will” statements, in which they pledged to prevent bullying, or shared a story about their own experiences with a bully. Each statement was hung up in the school in the areas where incidents of bullying may have occurred.
Beattie said one of the main lessons of program emphasized “how not to be a bystander, but to be an up-stander
“If we can do that,” Beattie said, “that takes the power away from the bullying situations and we can break that cycle.”