Students celebrate Unity Day, learn ways to help prevent bullying and promote acceptance
Bellefonte Elementary School was filled with faculty, staff and students wearing orange on Unity Day, the official color of bullying prevention. It even extended outside the building with students and their families from Bellefonte eLearning Academy who also participated in the day that was all about anti-bullying, inclusion and acceptance.
Brought to the school for the first time by school counselor Janelle Reese, she said the goal this year is to promote a variety of antibullying initiatives that also include kid-friendly lessons on acceptance, diversity and inclusion. Unity Day set the foundation for that, which will carry on throughout the school year.
“It’s all about linking together to support other students,” she said.
Incorporated into class lessons and other curriculum, students also learned what bullying is, what it looks like, how to prevent it and more. In kindergarten through second-grade, students learned the “stop, talk, walk” strategy, which teaches them how to handle being bullied, bothered or teased. In third through fifth grades, students learned how to be an upstander or someone who Reese said “doesn’t just stand by when they see bullying happening.”
According to PACER, Unity Day was started by its National Bullying Prevention Center as a signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month and celebrated annually on Oct. 21. Other elementary schools within Bellefonte Area School District also celebrated the day.
Normally, Evan, Hannah and Ryan Edwards would attend Bellefonte Elementary School in kindergarten, second- and fifth-grades. This school year, the siblings are enrolled in the district’s BeLA program that provides students with fulltime online learning. That, however, didn’t stop them from also participating in Unity Day.
"Even though we're doing BeLA at home, we're still showing our support and trying to be unified against bullying – even grandma!” said their mom Natalie Edwards.
For those students who physically attend school, they were able to contribute a leaf to the Unity Tree that included what they would do when faced with bullying or someone who appeared to be bullied with positive tips to help in its prevention.
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD