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THE ISSUE: Equality, acceptance campaign
OUR VIEW: Student ownership strengthens message
No one likes a bully.
It’s an old expression, but a campaign at Central Hardin High School is delivering it in a new ways.
The school’s “Stop the Hate” initiative aims to educate students about racial equality and bullying.
Students in a printmaking and graphics class ran with the message, using the skills they’ve gained in class and their creativity to illustrate the message. Teacher Antonio Menendez said he wanted students to see how those skills could be put to use outside a commercial setting. Their posters hang throughout the school and, Menendez said, student feedback has been positive.
Senior Lydia Miller, one of the designers, said the posters are catching attention among students.
Additionally, CHHS assembled last week to see a film of a play discussing bullying. Student Hollie Nall wrote the play.
The anti-bullying message of acceptance ties into racial equality, students and staff noted, and the school also hosted guest speakers and choirs last week in a Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration, the first such event at the school.
Choir teacher Samantha Taylor organized the event. She said it was new and different and students were responding well.
There are students tormented by bullying across the country and in Kentucky. Nationwide, about 20 percent of high school students said they were bullied on school property in the past year, according to an annual report on youth behavior by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That report showed the prevalence of bullying was highest among freshmen girls at about 27 percent.
School safety experts say preventing bullying takes a comprehensive approach. It’s not about raising student awareness with an assembly. It’s about building a school culture of respect through the work of students, staff, parents and the community.
What Menendez organized with his students gave those teens an opportunity to not just hear the message, but to reflect on the message, make their own and repeat it to their peers with their posters.
The Martin Luther King Jr. celebration presented the message in a new way and showed students it is reinforced in the community outside school walls.
While the prevention of bullying is an everyday endeavor not tied to any holiday or awareness campaign, these CHHS events are two great steps in promoting a more inclusive, understanding culture. The staff, students and community member involved should be applauded for their part in building schools where every child is accepted for who they are.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.