© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Souris Consolidated School students can barely contain their excitement after taking a “Stand Up!” pledge against bullying in the school’s gymnasium Thursday.
SOURIS — More than 300 students at Souris Consolidated School took a pledge Thursday to “stand up” to bullying during a special ceremony at the school.
The school invited the community to take part in the ceremony, which saw students share acts of kindness they had recently accomplished and take a pledge against bullying.
“We’ve come together as a school community to combat acts of bullying with acts of kindness,” said vice-principal Lynn Sherren during the ceremony.
Sherren added that students and staff were inspired by a school in the United States.
With the U.S. school having many homeless children enrolled, the principal organized a “Be Kind Friday” every week.
While students were encouraged to treat others justly every day of the week, Be Kind Friday saw all children wear a special shirt to remind themselves about this and were encouraged to do something nice for someone.
In Thursday’s ceremony here, representatives from each class went forward to describe acts of kindness they had recently accomplished. Those ranged from bagging groceries to making cookies for the entire school, raising food for the local food bank and helping the janitor.
As each rep finished, their classmates all put on the school’s own special shirt designed by Grade 7 student Cole Dalton.
Faculty member Dylan Taylor said staff decided to challenge the students to design a shirt expressing the school’s own anti-bullying efforts.
“We put this challenge out to all grades,” said Taylor. “There were hundreds of tremendous designs, from the youngest to the oldest (students).”
Dalton’s winning submission was a bright orange shirt, which simply read “Stand Up!”
“I never would have thought my shirt would have won, when I saw everyone else’s (designs),” said Dalton on his peers’ efforts. “It’s amazing.”
Once everyone had their shirt on, the pledge was read.
“I am standing up to bullying. I pledge to use positive actions and words to stand up for myself and others in need,” students and staff read aloud together.
While hearing about the acts of kindness their children had done and seeing them take the pledge was the highlight for many parents at the ceremony, the kids got a special treat near the end when local musician Tim Chaisson took the stage for a surprise set.
Kids stomped and clapped to the hometown singer-songwriter, who in turn applauded the students for standing up against bullying.
“That was such a great presentation, you should all be very proud,” said Chaisson. “Make sure you treat everyone fairly. No matter who they are, what they look like or where they’re from.”