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The group is holding one of the pledge banners with signatures from hundreds of OP students who have pledged to stand up to bullying. Pictured here, student leaders from left to right, back row, Nathan Rideout, Abby Laughland, Jon Trotta, Eyrie Clark, Derek Holden, Emily Newman, John Long, Harmanpreet Sekhon, Djula. Front row, Sarah Salmon, Paige Van Zeben, Madison Brown, Lindsay Holden, Carly Busselle, Angela Lovell, Daamoon Ghahari.

Orchard Park stands up to bullies

By Paige Van Zeben
Special to the News

Stop Bullying.

A simple message almost every student in elementary or high school has heard many times.
Although it may be short and sweet, it seems like it’s getting more difficult for children to understand.  It has been repeated time and time again, students are more aware and yet, it still exists.

To try to tackle this issue, a group of Orchard Park students decided to take action. They hosted an anti-bullying week from Nov. 12-17 for the students and staff of Orchard Park.

The group created their own workshop for all Grade 9 students including skits, games and discussion activities. Student leaders also ran several fun events with the help of Rising Stars, an organization that believes in the development and support of youth through sport and education.

These events included grade assemblies, signing a pledge to end bullying, having a “musical mania” game, where students sang or lip-synced songs with an anti-bullying message and a scavenger hunt providing solutions to stop bullying.

Along with an‘anti-bullying message, the group also wanted to teach the school the importance of not being a bystander. They made T-shirts with an anti-bystander stamp on the front and wore them throughout the week.

“Students around the school were actually interested and attentive to this message,” said Paige Van Zeben , a student leader.“ I feel like bullying has been talked about too much and no one really wants to listen any more, but doing it differently actually allowed students to take a new approach to it.”

The grade assemblies along with events put on by the students made a difference according to another student leader, Derek Holden.

“All of the students in one of our workshops were goofing around and not taking it seriously, but once we asked them about their bullying stories and if they knew anyone who had been affected by bullying, you could literally feel the mood in the room shift. You could see it in their eyes, that they really did understand and know what we were trying to get across to them.”

The week was met with great enthusiasm by students and staff.  The campaign will continue and become part of the school culture.  The students of Orchard Park will no longer stand by, they will Stand Up to Bullying.

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