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GBHS sets ‘ripple effect’ in motion

Weeklong anti-bullying campaign aims to promote acts of kindness
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The students behind Granite Bay High School’s “The Ripple Effect” campaign sat in class, watching the anti-bullying video bulletins they made.

They could see how engrossed their peers were, how closely they paid attention to statistics such as every seven minutes a kid in the United States is bullied. Or how 160,000 students miss school every day for fear of bullying.

Students in student government and advanced media classes teamed up on the weeklong effort to raise awareness about bullying and promote acts of kindness.

“It’s going pretty well,” said co-organizer Allie Burger on Friday, the campaign’s last day. “It’s made a greater impact than we’d originally expected.”

But perhaps the biggest indication of the culture campaign’s impact was through a simple action some teenagers made following the bulletins.

“A lot of students apologized to other students,” said teacher Zachary Weidkamp. “A lot of stuff has come out of this campaign that we weren’t really expecting.”

Each day, the school presented a video bulletin for that day’s theme. Monday was Day of No Hate, Tuesday was Day of Awareness, Wednesday was Day of Respect, Thursday was Day of Celebrations and Friday was Day of Resolutions.

Associated Student Body president Taylor Lilley said her student government class wanted to do a culture campaign and went to Weidkamp’s advanced media class to solicit technological assistance.

Seniors Burger and Jimmy Jack anchored the bulletins, and Priti Donde edited the segments. Several other students also participated. The group first found students who had been bullied. As word got out they were looking, other teenagers started approaching them.

“The scariest part is after the first segment, people were sharing stories, saying ‘I have one, too,’” Burger said. “It’s hard to believe so many kids had stories to share.”

She heard from 10 students in one day.

Some teenagers are bullied because of their sexual orientation or religion, while others are targeted because they aren’t part of a popular social group on campus, Donde said.

On the campaign’s third day, Principal Mike McGuire shared his story. For three years starting in sixth grade, he was the victim of a bully.

“No one ever talked to us about bullying or harassment back then,” McGuire said in the video. “I never told anybody.”

During their research, the students behind the campaign learned that one in four people at Granite Bay High School is bullied.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Jack said. “I see it every day, playing on a sports team. You can’t tell if someone is bullying or joking around.”

They hope the campaign opened students’ eyes to the line between harmless humor and causing emotional pain.

“I hope they get the seriousness of how not just physical bullying, but emotional and verbal bullying can really affect a person,” Donde said.

Ultimately, the campaign’s goal was to promote a chain reaction of good actions, or a “ripple effect,” and to make teenagers more sensitive to one another.

“I want people to see that everything you say can’t necessarily be taken as a joke,” Burger said. “Like using the word ‘gay’ as a synonym for stupid. If we just change a little part of what we say it can make a huge impact.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.

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To learn more about Granite Bay High School’s “The Ripple Effect” campaign, visit www.granitebayhigh.org.