It wasn’t just the cherry blossoms, blooming flowers and Legally Blonde posters showing off their pink pride this week at SMUS, our students also donned pink socks, wristbands, hair ties and more to spread a unified message against bullying.
Pink Shirt Day is a day when British Columbians come together raising awareness of the strong anti-bullying message, and raising money to support anti-bullying and violence prevention programs.
Mrs. Dariol Haydock, assistant director of the Middle School, says students really take this message to heart.
“They really embrace it. But for us, this is part of our dialogue every day. We talk about mean behaviour every day. We frame it around the school’s pillars. Most weeks in assembly I’m asking kids, ‘Which one of the four pillars does this fall under?’ ‘That’s courage, that’s honesty, that’s respect, that’s service.’ It’s just part of their vernacular,” she says.
She points to a quote hanging on her wall that reads: “Character education is not one more thing on the plate, it is the plate.”
“That says it all,” Haydock says about why SMUS puts so much focus on kindness and good behaviour; it all reinforces the messaging of Pink Shirt Day. “At this age group, the conversation around character education has to be constant. You have to be talking about it all the time. Kids need to know that it’s not okay just be a bystander, you have to be an upstander.”
A lot of the focus on kindness and anti-bullying messaging in the Middle School surrounds being kind online, and using social media to bring good.
“The students are concrete thinkers. So when you say, ‘How does it feel?,’ they get it. They don’t want to see
anybody hurt. A lot of them are starting to get a real sense of empathy,” Haydock says. “I think the older we get the more we realize how much kindness matters in life. If students realize it’s very important at the school, it just helps them in all areas of their life.”
To mark Pink Shirt Day, SMUS students pledged to be kind in their own personal ways, they completed random acts of kindness, and Senior School peer coaches handed out pink wristbands to students and staff.
In 2013, Grade 6 Legacy Builders students starred in a video promoting the no bullying culture in the Middle School on Pink Shirt Day.
Read more about SMUS’s four pillars below:
Service, respect, honesty and courage: four very simple words that form the strong supporting foundations of our school’s culture.
Our school is extremely aware of the Global Village, and does its best to take care of it. With numerous service initiatives, including building schools in Kenya and several other local service objectives, our school allows us to branch out into the community, and lend a serving hand. The school puts a heavy emphasis on the necessity of serving others, and ensures students know that by having many service initiatives available to them.
Our school community is built on relationships between students, staff and the community as a whole. Two key ingredients of these relationships are respect and honesty. We have a trust between the students and the staff, and it creates a very special bond that brings the two closer together than a professional relationship.
Honesty goes hand in glove with respect, and the trust bond between the students and the staff allow both to recognize these convictions in each other. Not only are the staff looked up to for their professionalism, they are also looked up to for a much stronger reason: students feel they can trust the teachers and that the teachers have the students’ best interests at heart. By trusting the students, teachers show that they acknowledge the trust bond, and that they also respect their relationship with the students.
Service, honesty and respect are all needed for a community to live in harmony, and are also necessary character traits for an effective leader. However, these characteristics are nothing without the one trait that binds them all together: courage. Courage is what is needed to carry out tasks involving service, honesty and respect, and is often the difference between a good leader and a great leader. Courage allows us to voice our opinions, to be brave enough to stay honest in times of distress, and to maintain respect for others, even when we may doubt them. In times of trouble, the great leaders stay courageous and keep their minds on the task at hand.