October 9 was Unity Day, a 24-hour period dedicated to putting an end to bullying. Organized by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to help celebrate National Bully Prevention Month, the day asked all students and community members to wear orange to demonstrate the importance of bullying prevention.
After hearing about Unity Day, students at the Episcopal School of Dallas wanted to know how they could help. Jenny Esteve, a third grade teacher at ESD, helped her students organize a skit about bullying, that raised awareness and encouraged friends to stand up for each other and not be a bystander or a bully. However, before the students would wear their orange to school, more planning had to be done.
“I asked students to make orange posters with uplifting and inspirational messages, get permission to wear orange shirts instead of their uniforms, and write a skit to perform in chapel,” Esteve said. “I really hope we can make this a yearly tradition.”
So they did. Students put together an action plan and presented their ideas to Sandy Kerr, Head of Lower School.
On Unity Day, orange shirts, ties, and hair bows could be seen buzzing about the halls of the Lower School campus. An orange chain, made out of construction paper, also adorned the cafeteria wall with messages like “Stay Strong” and “Be Brave. Stand Up.”
“We thought if we could make a difference, then we could get the whole school to help,” a third grader said. “We worked really hard, but I think all our work was worth it.”
Several other classes participated in Unity Day, including Allison Hogan’s Primer class. Students were shown picture books that incorporated the golden rule, and were taught about the importance of treating one another with respect. The Play-Doh Pit in Julie Butterworth’s Beginners class was also turned orange.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, every day nearly 160,000 students nationwide skip school for fear of being bullied by their peers. They report that in one year, more than 3.2 million students will be the victims of some form of bullying.
“I am so proud of our students,” Kerr said. “They saw an opportunity to make a difference, so they implemented a plan and demonstrated the kind of character we all want to have.”