Murray High Students Speak Up About Anti-Bullying, SuicideOct 08, 2015 11:34AM ● By Bryan Scott
By Julie Slama
“Bullying doesn’t happen without people who act like it’s okay,” is the theme of Murray High School’s writing contest for students.
It’s also a message to students that they need to speak up about the issue, said school social worker Heather Preece.
With the writing contest, students may enter a typed 250-word entry, which may range from a poem to an essay, showing sincerity, creativity and commitment on the topic of anti-bullying and suicide. Grammar also will be a criteria for judging, Preece said. Winners will be announced in October.
“We chose a writing contest for several reasons,” Preece said. “First, it was a purposeful activity to support our school’s emphasis on literacy. Second, we felt like it would be inviting and accessible for all students, including students who aren’t particularly vocal. And, third, students can express themselves in unlimitedly creative ways through writing.”
She said that while anti-bullying and suicide prevention have been important topics at Murray High, the faculty and staff try to teach things about the issues in different ways throughout the school year.
“This year, we wanted to start from day one, letting students know that we are serious about these topics, that bullying is not tolerated at our school, and that we all play a role in bullying and suicide prevention. We hope that students have felt welcome, wanted, needed and supported,” she said.
It also ties into an “extreme” assembly the school will host Sept. 23. At the assembly, professional skateboarders, BMX bikers and skaters will not only show off their skills, but they will translate their talents to teaching students ways to prevent bullying and how to be an ally to those who are targeted.
The writing contest, which may become an annual event, is designed to empower students to speak up, hence the name of the contest, Preece said.
“We have posters throughout the school, which say, ‘Bullying doesn’t happen without people who act like it’s okay.’ We want our students to speak up and tell an adult when a friend is feeling bullied or when a friend is hurting themselves or feeling suicidal. Murray students are generally really great at this, and I believe that several lives have been saved by them speaking up. I want them to know that I appreciate and support them, and that they have more power and influence than they know,” she said.
The writing entries will be judged by the school’s social work team and the English department. There will be a top winner chosen in each grade level and several honorable mentions. Top entries will receive prizes such as Papermate Flair pen sets and iTunes gift cards, and their entries may be posted in the school display cases.
“We hope everyone who enters will be inspired, through their writing, to speak up throughout the school year,” Preece said.