It was an impossible task. Students in Ms. Garaway’s seventh-grade English class were asked to crumple up a piece of paper, and then try to smooth it back out. Naturally, the paper never returned to its original crisp state; instead, it was permanently impacted by the act of crumpling.
“We read a story called ‘Feathers into the Wind’ to understand the power of gossip and hurtful words,” explained Ms. Garaway. “The creased paper represented mean and hurtful, or untrue, comments. The message was that even if you apologize, or ‘take it back,’ or didn’t mean it, the scars are there forever, and you can’t fix them; just like the marks on the paper will stay forever.”
This lesson wasn’t a unique one. Similar lessons were heard and felt throughout the entire Middle School, as Sinai Akiba students participated in the No Name-Calling Week. The week-long event is organized by K-12 educators and students to end name-calling and bullying in schools. According to the GLSEN.org website, “The week is rooted in the idea of #KindnessInAction — not merely recognizing the importance of kindness, but actively adding kindness into our every action.”
Mr. Geoff Agnor, Middle School Director, shared that his goal was to bring awareness to the damaging effects of name-calling and to promote kindness by having the Middle School participate in a number of events and advising lessons during this week.
“In preparation for No Name-Calling Week, all MS students answered a writing prompt about The Harmful Effects of Name-Calling,” Mr. Agnor noted. “We kicked off No Name-Calling Week with an Assembly where we framed the purpose of the week: raising awareness about the negative effects of personal put-downs and ‘roasting,’ empowering ‘upstanders,’ and promoting school-wide kindness.” During the assembly, a few students and teachers shared personal stories about their own experiences with the harmful effects of name-calling, and a few students from Ms. Garaway’s class shared “Letter Poems” that they penned, related to name-calling.
Other events took place during the week, which allowed students to express their true selves, address incorrect assumptions that others may have made about them, and participate in a kindness pledge drive. “We hope that the lessons and activities of No Name-Calling Week will continue to spark conversation within our community about the positive impact we all can have by treating each other with respect and kindness and calling out personal put-downs and name-calling, which have no place in our school,” said Mr. Agnor.