Upstanders Lead The Way



awareness touted

Students and staff in all seven of Garden City’s public schools showed their colors to stand united as “upstanders” against bullying in all its. Wearing orange marked “2013 Unity Day,” a day when everyone is encouraged to “link together—in schools, communities and online—and send one large, orange message of support to students who have experienced bullying,” stated the National Bullying Prevention Center’s website (

Across the school district, a variety of activities took place to raise awareness about bullying. For example, at the middle school, high school students in Students Helping Students (SHS), a service club under the advisement of social worker Lori Kuster, spoke to each grade level during the middle school lunch period.

High school social worker Lori Kuster (second from left) with just a few of the members of the high school’s Students Helping Students (SHS) who visited the middle school to share their anti-bullying message on Unity Day (All photos courtesy of Garden City Public Schools)
As an ice-breaker, the visiting club members asked teachers to look away while students placed their heads down on the lunchroom tables and closed their eyes. SHS members queried five questions about bullying, asking for raised hands as anonymous answers, and took note of the number to calculate broad stroke percentages. Eighty percent of the students indicated witnessing bullying behavior at some point in their life. Sixty percent indicated they had intervened with “upstander” strategies, 30 percent answered they remained bystanders during an incident, 40 percent raised their hands to indicate they had been a victim, and very few actually raised their hands to indicate they been the bully. The percentages were noted on a white board that served as a backdrop for a song by SHS member Aidan McGovern: “Sticks and stones may break some bones, but the words you say can take a life,” sang the high school senior. His original song, “We Are the Change,” was a heartfelt reminder to students that bullying can occur anywhere at any time and have a devastating effect on someone struggling with personal and/or family issues. Aidan’s song is available for listening on You Tube:

At the elementary and primary schools, students in orange formed a sea of awareness-raising color on Unity Day as books appropriate to their respective ages were read during lunch and group times. Discussions led by administrators and social workers focused on students being “bucket fillers,” a district-wide K-5 educational initiative based on a series of books by author Carol McLoud. Students were reminded to consider the feelings of others and not be “bucket dippers” (hurting others’ feelings), but to do good deeds to keep everyone’s bucket full.

Submitted by Garden City Public Schools

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