At the podium for Wednesday’s student-led assembly at Chemainus Secondary School, from left, are: Isabelle Kendall, Hannah Horsman, Peri Pickel and Alexis Belton. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Anti-bullying messages heard loud and clear at Chemainus Secondary School

Emphasis placed on making changes that will be felt all year long, rather than just one day

The Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying campaign is embraced one day a year at Chemainus Secondary School, as part of Compassion Week, and elsewhere.

But the aim is to obviously extend the message far beyond any defined parameters.

“This needs to be something we reflect on all the time,” said Chemainus Secondary vice principal Jennie Hittinger during a student-led assembly last Wednesday.

“One thing that stands out to me, we all get on board and we’re all very excited when it’s Compassion Week. Think about that compassion all through school, even through the summer.”

Students Alexis Belton, Hannah Horsman, Peri Pickel and Isabelle Kendall directed the Pink Shirt Day assembly program with some comments for thought and the playing of videos that brought the significance of the underlying plight to light.

“Bullying personally makes me feel sad,” said Belton, a Grade 11 student.

“Bullying can affect the mental health of any individual,” reasoned Horsman. “Fear is not a fun feeling to have.”

She spoke from personal experience about low self-confidence that in her case stemmed from someone talking behind her back.

“Now I have self-conscious issues because of it,” Horsman said.

But, she added, “it will get better and there’s always hope.”

Pickel summarized the four categories of bullying, including physical. “This can cause long or short-term damage to the target,” she said.

There’s also verbal, social and cyber bullying, Pickel noted. In the latter case, “some examples are abuse or hurtful comments, posts or images,” she added.

The girls led students through a series of exercises where they crossed a line if they ever had to deal with several different scenarios to highlight the numerous incidences of bullying.

“Bullying is never OK,” stressed Belton. “We hope you learned something about yourself and your peers.”

“I know a big problem I have that can be hard for me to admit is envy,” said Kendall. “I start comparing myself to others and I feel horrible. Imagine a world where no one had any imperfections?”

She conveyed the message that a few bad days here and there needn’t compound into a constant challenge.

“You have the power to make a change and help yourself or someone else,” Kendall offered.

The big message that came out of the proceedings for students was to get help and talk to counsellors, teachers, parents or other adults about how to deal with anything that’s bothering them, no matter how trivial.

“Even when you think not a single person cares about you, I can guarantee there is,” emphasized Pickel.

Compassion Week at Chemainus Secondary started last Monday with Random Act of Kindness Day, with students wearing purple, followed by the wearing of red and blue school colours for Spirit Day Tuesday.

After Wednesday’s Pink Shirt Day, students wore green for Cultural Day Thursday and wrapped it up Friday by wearing bright colours for Rainbow Day where all students and staff received an uplifting letter or message about how important they are no matter what some people think.

Rainbow cupcakes were being served by the leadership class at lunchtime.


Chemainus Secondary School students cross the line in an anti-bullying exercise when given a scenario that applied to them. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus Secondary School students take part in an anti-bullying exercise at the school Wednesday. In the middle are: Morgan Bottomley and Hannah Pachet, who just returned from Ottawa after their Private Member’s Bill was read in the House of Commons. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Girls at the podium on Pink Shirt Day, from left, are: Hannah Horsman, Peri Pickel, Isabelle Kendall and Alexis Belton. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Vice principal Jennie Hittinger is colourful during Pink Shirt Day at Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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