by Lisa Tome
Briana Baldwin knows how it feels to be pushed around.
"I was bullied in first and second (grades). It feels really bad," said Baldwin, a third grader at Rising Sun Elementary School.
Last week, as part of Unity Day, Baldwin and a host of other students at the school took a stand against bullying
"It's bad. If you're mean to people, they won't be nice to you and they will be hurt. Speak up and stop it (bullying)," said Baldwin.
Third graders took time out from an art project to talk about their feelings about bullying.
"If I see bullying, I would speak up and tell somebody," said Alex Coleman.
"Bullying is mean," said A.J. Lawrence.
"You should never bully. It's very mean," said Michael Boris.
"Speak up for yourself," said Steven Snyder.
"It happens a lot. I can help someone who is being bullied by telling a teacher," said Kara Tome.
The schools in the Cecil County system are marking no bullies month with a variety of activities. Administrators are signing pledges which state that bullying has no place in school.
They are also doing projects to promote Unity. These projects serve as a reminder to students. At Rising Sun, students are participating in Project Connect. This project has students writing messages on orange construction paper. The message reflects how students can make school a safer place for themselves and their peers. The messages are then connected to make a chain for the school lobby and hallways.
Principal Cindy Fitzpatrick and assistant principal Sherri Isaac explained that the goal is to teach skills and strategies to prevent bullying and also to teach onlookers how they can intervene. "We want to make the whole school safe and inviting," said Fitzpatrick. "Teachers will integrate it with the learning."
She said that on the elementary school level, bullying occurs but is not severe. "It's name calling, not physical. They do it in more subtle ways such as ostracizing others. I don't think it's intentional," said Fitzpatrick.
"As we meet with kids, we explain that calling a child names day after day is bullying," said Isaac.
"Part of the goal is for them to understand that we are all different and that they need to play with, work with, and have compassion for other kids," said Fitzpatrick.
Students at Conowingo Elementary are also marking the month of October as Bully Prevention Month. Last Wednesday, the students also wore orange to signify that they are taking a stand against bullying. On October 2, students signed a petition entitled "The End of Bullying Begins With Me." October 16 is Bookmarks Against Bullying Day. October 23, they will be collecting donations for the SPCA for the Buddies, Not Bullies program. On October 30, students are being urged to wear mismatched clothing for "Don't Be a Bully Bystander" day.