In today’s world, it isn’t hard to spot an incident of bullying quick and up close.
“It used to be you only got bullied when you physically crossed paths with a bully,” said Van Buren High School principal Michael Brand. “Now a person can be bullied anywhere and anytime.”
This is one reason that Van Buren Middle and High Schools chose to implement their new anti-bullying program, “Rachel’s Challenge,” just after the new year. The program is modeled after a program established by the parents of Columbine student victim Rachel Scott. It takes a proactive approach in the fight against bullying by helping students to be kind and respectful of student peers.
Principal Brand said the students chose to implement the program after hearing its message delivered by a Rachel’s Challenge representative at a school assembly. About 115 members strong, the group meets approximately twice a month to plan ideas for recruitment and events. Students have currently designed and displayed posters about the group in the hallways and placed sticky notes on student lockers with encouraging notes and praises to rally for the cause.
Senior Paige Sudlow is one of the members of Rachel’s Challenge. She says she joined the group because she wants to make a positive impact in the school and by helping to create change. She believes that it is a necessity to break old habits in order to fight the battle against bullying.
“Making fun of others has become so socially acceptable to our generation that people don’t think twice about it sometimes,” said Paige. ”It’s a way for some to take their anger out that they have built inside and it’s a way to show peers they have ‘power.’ Some kids follow those who have that ‘power’ just so they aren’t the ones being bullied. I think a lot of it is that kids aren’t willing to jump off the bandwagon and become a leader rather than a follower.”
Paige said that she wants to instill a feeling of hope within the hearts of peers who are going through bullying situations.
“I would tell them all of the worth I see in them and that we were put on this Earth for a reason. Once they find out what that reason is, everything will start to make sense and things will start to fall into place,” said Paige. “I also would tell them I believe in them because everyone is worth something in this world and everyone has the opportunity to do great things. All it takes is one person to believe in them.”
Contact high school principal, Michael Brand, or middle school principal,
Jay Clark, at 419-299-3384 for more information regarding Rachel’s Challenge.