Archived Story

Fairland students challenged to be better

Published 9:51am Friday, February 22, 2013

ROME TOWNSHIP — With bullying becoming increasing more prevalent in schools, and the issue moving toward the forefront of key problems within the education system, Fairland Schools brought in someone to teach the students “we don’t curse the darkness, we share the light.”

Bill Sanders, motivational speaker with Rachel’s Challenge, said he speaks to students in hopes of turning them into Rachels.

Rachel Scott was the first student killed during the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

“She believed in targeted acts of kindness, not just random acts of kindness,” Sanders said. “She looked for kids to help, kids to be nice to, looked for kids in need, looked for new students, isolated students. I want to help these kids desire the same thing.”

Sanders said it was writing found in Rachel’s diary by her father that made him realize students were in need of motivation, in need of understanding the importance of recognizing the problems in their schools and knowing it is up to them to change them.

Large assemblies held throughout Thursday gave all students the opportunity to hear Sanders speak, but the afternoon was reserved for those principals and teachers selected to be leaders for change. Friends of Rachel is a club designated by Rachel’s Challenge as a group of students dedicated to spreading compassion throughout their school to combat bullying.

Kelsie Warnock, sixth grader at Fairland Middle, was one of the students selected. Warnock said she was bullied when she first moved up to middle school so she understands first-hand the importance of the lesson taught by Sanders.

“Some kids just aren’t nice if you are the new kid, or if you are different,” Warnock said. “I think there are already changes today. Usually there are people out in the hallways cussing, but today, I didn’t really hear it.”

Feeling compassion only goes so far, Sanders said. He said it is acting on that compassion, making an active change in the world around you, is true kindness.

Warnock said she plans to follow that by stepping up if she sees someone being bullied.

Sanders could not have come at a more perfect time, De’Vonte Braye, Fairland High junior, said. He said one of his friends recently lost his mom, a woman they were all close to, and hearing Sanders talk about love, compassion and kindness has helped lift spirits.

“We are only on this earth for a short time and we need to make the most of it,” Braye said. “I plan on going around the school and talking to people I’ve never talked to before and ask them ‘how is your day going’ because it is important no one feels left out.”

And that is the key point to his message, Sanders said. He said schools do not have bullying problems, they have isolation problems. Communities have a problem with reaching out to anyone who is different than them, and until that is taken care of, nothing can change, he said.

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