Chantilly It’s important to learn academics in school, but caring, compassion and understanding also have a place. And last Friday, Oct. 12, schools throughout the Chantilly High Pyramid hosted their first Bullying Awareness Day.
The theme was “Stand by Me,” and students — who were encouraged to wear purple shirts — learned what bullying is and how to deal with it if ever faced with a bullying situation. They received purple wristbands bearing the words, “Stand by Me,” and took an anti-bullying pledge.
The pledge stated: “Students in the Chantilly Pyramid are bully free; I will not bully others. I will stand up to help others who are being bullied. I will report bullying to an adult. If I see something, I will say something. I know sticking up for someone is the right thing to do. My name is and I will stand by you, in return, I hope you will stand by me.”
Children at all grade levels participated and, at Rocky Run Middle School, students were enthusiastic about the event. Those in teacher Lenore Ale’s eighth-grade civics class, for example, recited the pledge together and signed it before receiving their wristbands.
“It’s important to help others being hurt mentally or physically,” said eighth-grader Arash Azizi. “And since bullying is such a big problem, we should all stand up to help others.”
Classmate Michelle Cao said bullying “destroys lots of people’s lives, so it’s something that should not be allowed. Sometimes, people don’t know how to ask for help, so it’s up to us to help them.”
She said students are “really nice” at Rocky Run but, if she saw someone being bullied, she’d take their side and tell an adult. After all, said Michelle, “We can’t just stand by, because then we’d be just as guilty as the bully.”
“There are many people I know from elementary school who have been bullied and gone through these situations, and it’s wrong,” added eighth-grader Diana Rodriguez Rosales. “If it were happening to us, we’d want others to stand up for us.” If she saw bullying, said Diana, “I’d tell an adult and stand up for them because you’re helping that person and saving them from a whole life of feeling bad about themselves.”
Classmate Devarsh Modh said Rocky Run’s anti-bullying event was important to do “so people in our school can stay here happily and won’t snap. It also makes us more aware of bullying. It feels bad to see people being bullied. It hurts others’ feelings, and there’s no point in bullying because, if the bullies want fun, they can find it another way.”
Students in teacher Laurie Simmons’s seventh-grade activities class also participated. “I feel that kids shouldn’t be bullied,” said student Haley Alderman. “We have the right to stand up to the bullies to make a difference in the victims’ lives because they may be afraid to stand up for themselves. You want to learn this now because, when you grow up, you don’t want to bully others. And if you were bullied, you want to get over that anger and not bully other people.”
Seventh-grader Aalaniz Rivera took Friday’s event so seriously that she decorated her own purple T-shirt especially for the occasion. She sewed purple ribbons at the shoulders and wrote the words, “Stand by Me,” on the front and “Bully Free Zone” on the back. For her, it was personal.
“My sister has special needs — she’s 4 and has autism,” said Aalaniz. “And it’s very important that she has a happy life, even though she has that standing in the way. She’ll go to Greenbriar East Elementary, and I don’t want anybody to bully her when she starts school.”
Besides, added Aalaniz, “You don’t gain anything from bullying; you just lose friends and it doesn’t do any good. It’s hard to see somebody being bullied and, if you’re a bystander, you don’t want that happening to you. I’d go to the nearest adult or I’d help [the victim] out if no adult was nearby.”
Basically, she said, “Bullies just want power. Maybe they experienced something in their lives that made them feel small, and they want to gain that control and power, but it’s wrong. Bullying has to stop because kids can get depression and can lose their lives from it.”
All in all, said Rocky Run Principal Matt Eline, “I think it was a powerful day and everyone took part. Bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, teachers, administrators and students all wore the same color for anti-bullying. It has brought an awareness that this is an issue in all our schools. And because it’s a student issue, it really needs to be solved by students.”
Actually, said Eline, “That’s the idea behind the event. There’s always someone who sees bullying going on; and if they’d either stand by the person being bullied or tell an adult, I think it would go a long way toward solving this problem and making it better. It has to be kids standing up for kids. We can help and support them, but they hide it from us, so we need them to have the courage and awareness to come forward and to do something about it.”