Guest Essay: Efforts to end bullying
Updated: May 7, 2012 9:54AM
Efforts to end bullying
Meredith Falk is the New Trier High School Student Senate secretary
Throughout the week of March 12, New Trier’s Freshman Student Senate sponsored a completely student-led Anti-Bullying week as a follow up to the annual “Names” program. Back in December when “Names” visited New Trier, students discussed bullying issues ranging from seemingly playful but verbal abuse to LGBT harassment. However, the main focus was to help students accept and embrace others’ differences. Advisers encouraged their advisees to “lower the iceberg,” or see past their peers’ differences to their incredible uniqueness and talents, possibly masked by labels and stereotypes before “Names Day.” Historically, New Trier students reported that while “Names” felt impactful, its impression quickly faded and students reverted to their typical social habits. Freshman Senate refused to let this impression fade.
Student Body President Jason Schwartz advocated an Anti-Bullying campaign in September when he ran for president, and he created an Anti-Bullying committee in the senate immediately following his election. Schwartz expressed that he was very pleased with the week’s results. “The Anti-Bullying week was very exciting because it was completely student led and organized. However, the final product was the result of the collective effort of many people at New Trier. Everyone involved wanted to try to make a difference in the way our school faces bullying. I am so happy with the week’s incredible success.”
Shannon Brooks, Hunter Johnson, Berrit Keller, Chris Keller, Ariel Klingsporn, Nathan Lee, Cameron Lloyd-Jones and Corey Schwartz served on this committee, and Nicole De Matteo and Robert Kennedy acted as co-chairs. The Senate’s Executive Board, composed of 10 co-chairs and four officers, felt passionately about instituting an Anti-Bullying campaign at New Trier. With a goal to unite all students at the Northfield campus to combat bullying, the senate took off soaring. They arranged and conducted the first completely student-run assembly in New Trier’s history; speakers included Principal Paul Waechtler as well as a few senators, representatives from clubs who wished to advocate the week, and also a performance from the girls and boys chorus who sang “Where is the Love.” After this assembly, senators led their peers in completing compliment packets, anti-bullying posters and watched several videos, such as those of the ItGetsBetter.org project, during adviser room.
The Executive Board wished to leave something at the Northfield campus to inspire a continuation of the anti-bullying message. Ultimately, they worked with the entire student body during lunch periods to create a mural filled with hundreds of handprints, symbolizing unity among the school to combat bullying. Student artist Emiko George painted the week’s slogan “1 School, 1000 Kids to End Bullying” on the mural as well. It will hang on the wall near the lunch room for years to come. The entire senate is proud of the week’s efforts and hope to continue to spread the anti-bullying message at the East campus next year.