LAURINBURG — Scotland County schools were awash in a sea of orange as students, teachers and faculty donned the color to show support during Wednesday’s anti-bullying Unity Day.
From the smallest preschooler to the burliest high school senior, students wearing t-shirts in every shade of orange from marigold to amber, filled school hallways.
“It’s nice to be a part of the people that try to do something good for the society and try to push bullying away, not build it up more,” said Scotland High School student Jacob Walters. “Bullying is not a good thing, a lot of people lose their lives because of it.”
Unity Day is a nationwide event promoting bullying awareness and prevention. The day is a part of National Bullying Prevention Month, which is a campaign in the United States founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
“October is bullying prevention and awareness month and this week specifically is identified as bullying prevention week,” said Jamie Synan, director of student services for Scotland County schools. “The purpose of Unity Day is for people to wear orange and stand up against bullying as a community.”
Bullying, whether it’s cyber-bullying or face-to-face, goes far beyond the school. It is a problem among all ages, Synan said.
“We want to teach students how to deal with bullies,” she said. “If someone is a bully, we need to look at what’s really going on with them and why they are bullying others.”
To teach students about bullying, schools all over Scotland County are incorporating bully prevention lessons into the curriculum. Schools are also putting on special events to get the students involved.
“During lunch on Wednesday, students at Scotland High School signed a banner against bullying,” she said. There was also a sign language performance focused on the issue performed during lunch for other students.
Kelly Cheek, the sign language and English teacher, had about 30 of her students sign to the country song, “Don’t Laugh at Me” by Mark Wills, to promote bullying awareness.
“The first verse of the song is on how children are bullied and the second verse is about how adults are bullied inadvertently,” Cheek said.
The performance was first held in the cafeteria during each lunch period then in the auditorium where it was taped and will be broadcasted on the jumbo-tron during Friday Night’s football game.
“It’s bully week and there are a lot of kids out there getting bullied,” said student Clark Gale. “I feel like we’re helping them out by coming out here, showing our colors and our support against bullies.”
Cheek said that the performance is well receive by the students, both signing and passing by. Last year the performance was published on the school website and received around 8,000 views.
“It goes beyond Scotland County and it really puts us on the map,” Cheek said. “This is just one of the many things our school is doing this week.”
Students also had the chance to take an oath against bullying and sign a banner that will hang in the cafeteria all year round.
“They promise to raise their voice for the ones they see being bullied,” said Liz Stubbs, the school counselor. “Once they take the pledge, they get to wear an orange ribbon and sign the banner.”
School officials hope to promote anti-bullying longer than just the month of October. A guest speaker will talk about bullying to the entire school in the auditorium in December.
“I know the month of October is bullying month, but we’re trying to spread the message throughout the whole year,” Stubbs said.
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.