Columbia Middle School art teacher Nancy Morris hopes a project her pupils completed this year will encourage children to stand up to bullies.
She assigned groups to design and create a poster, video, painting or other image promoting the theme of the anti-bullying project: “Stand up and speak out.”
“A lot of the students have either been bullied or seen bullying since elementary school,” Morris said. “We have to be the heroes. There are more of us than there are of the bullies and the kids that are bullied.”
Morris said the idea came to her after the January suicide of a Columbia County pupil that some claimed was a result of bullying.
The project was personal for eighth-grader Adonis Wiles, who knew the boy. Adonis, 14, said he believes his friend took his life because of bullying, and he realized others judged his friend’s decision without knowing his circumstances.
His design, which shows half of Adonis’ face, encourages others not to make assumptions with the phrase: “If you only know half the story, why judge?”
“I just hope that it not only touches people, but it makes them stop and see,” Adonis said.
Morris said she and her pupils spent several days talking about bullying before starting on the project. Bullying, she said, includes gossip, rumors and name-calling as well as physical bullying. They spent several days working on the projects.
“They amazed me,” Morris said.
The designs were displayed around school and shared on social media sites to get the message beyond school walls.
“We can’t just watch bad things happen,” Morris said. “We have to do something about it.”