By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
Thursday afternoon, more than 400 students and staff gathered on the front lawn of Madison Middle School to take a stand together against bullying.
Teachers ushered students onto carefully spray-painted letters while a Richmond fire truck lifted Asst. Principal Scott Anderson and a Register reporter to snap photos from almost 100 feet in the air.
From high in the sky, the students could be seen forming the words “stop bullying,” part of the school’s on-going effort to combat bullying.
Three and four-foot purple and yellow ribbons also could be seen hanging on the front of the school building.
Across the country, October is recognized as Anti-Bullying Month. After some research, Anderson concluded that there is not a ribbon color designation for Anti-Bullying like other supportable causes, he said.
Thus, Anderson started a week-long Anti-Bullying Ribbon Campaign that began Monday to establish purple and yellow as the official ribbon colors for the month. Purple and gold are, coincidentally, the school’s colors.
“We want the colors to not only instill school pride, but to remind us to treat each other as human beings,” he said.
The color purple is associated with domestic violence awareness whereas yellow is associated with suicide, Anderson said. “Bullying can be very violent and many students commit suicide due to being bullied, we thought the two colors naturally went together.”
Anderson and others are working with Rep. Rita Smart (D-81st Dist.) to present a bill to the Kentucky legislature to make purple and yellow the official ribbon colors for Anti-Bullying Month.
The idea also has been presented to Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Sixth Dist.) and his Republican contender Andy Barr, so that whoever wins the congressional seat will take the cause nationwide.
“Bullying is such a big issue right now,” Anderson said. “Too many times you hear parents say a school is not doing enough to stop bullying, we at Madison Middle want to be proactive."
Some students collaborated and wrote an anti-bullying press release for the Register. Eighth-graders Maggie May and Eliza Miller wrote:
“Madison Middle believes no child or student has the right to bully someone else. Our students also take care of their friends making sure no one bullies them. They look out for each other. Together the teachers and students work as one to help stop bullying in our middle school. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect at school, online, and in other social settings. No one needs to ever feel that they aren’t wanted in this world. That’s why Madison Middle believes so strongly in this ribbon for bully awareness. Over 30,000 teens commit suicide each year due to bullying and that’s why we are working on making sure none of our students become part of a statistic.”
On Tuesday, students signed pledges that read: “Working together to assure all students have a bully-free school.”
Everyone was given a “No Bullying” button and teachers are creating anti-bullying videos with students.
The school also has started an aggressive online campaign by sharing pictures of teachers holding “We stand against bullying” signs on Facebook and Twitter.
Anderson asked some of his friends who work at Baptist Health in Richmond to post pictures of themselves with “We stand with Madison Middle against bullying” signs. He requested that they then ask their colleagues to do the same.
Friday, the school started an anti-bullying poster contest. The winner will be judged next Friday (Nov. 2) by the Richmond Police Department.
Eastern Kentucky University football players will pose with the winning poster. That photo will then be created into a poster, which Anderson plans to hang “anywhere we can put it,” he said.
The week-long campaign was only one part of the anti-bullying efforts that began at the start of the school year.
Every week, teachers nominate students who show school pride and stand up for others. Around five to six students are rewarded every week with snacks or extra free time “to thank them for standing against bullying,” Anderson said.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.