Last year, the North Branch Area Middle School student council’s Unity Day celebration so impressed the PACER Center they awarded our hard-working students the “Faces of Change” award. The “Faces of Change” award is given to students for “outstanding acts to make a difference in their communities,” and was presented to NBAMS students for their Unity Day “color cloud” event last fall.
To mark Unity Day this year, students and staff wore orange on Wednesday, Oct. 25, to send a unified message that students care about each other, and that bullying will not be accepted in school or in the community. Why the color orange?
“Orange provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity,” according to Paula Goldberg, Executive Director of PACER Center. “When hundreds of individuals in a school or organization wear orange, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the unified message to kids to know that they are not alone.”
As well as wearing orange on Unity Day, students will participate in a “Kindness Rocks” event. Each student at NBAMS was provided a stone upon which to paint a message of kindness. On Monday of this week, the collected stones were placed in the courtyard in the new Kindness Corner for permanent display. To make it most meaningful for students, each will place their own rock in the Kindness Corner.
Events like this are important for our students. Every child deserves the opportunity to make the most of their education – free from the fear and stress that bullying can invoke. We know that students are susceptible to peer pressure and Unity Day is an opportunity to steer peer pressure in a positive direction. The action of peers encouraging each other to reach out to those who are struggling can have a positive impact on the group and other individuals who want to speak out against bullying.
Dr. Deb Henton is superintendent of North Branch Area Public Schools.