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Upstanders Rise on Berner’s Character Education Day

Acceptance, empathy, kindness and respect were the values emphasized during the annual Chiefs Challenge Character Education Day at Berner Middle School on March 7. Students heard powerful messages from guest speakers and also participated in meaningful dialogue with their classmates.

 

Seventh and eighth graders attended the “Bullying 101: Triggered” presentation with Alisty Keneth. It focused on the scope of behaviors that can be defined as bullying and provided students with strategies to use if they are being bullied or to intervene if they see someone else being bullied. Box Out Bullying presented an interactive show for sixth graders that focused on bystander empowerment. Through live theater, students learned evidence-based bullying prevention techniques.

 

Classes throughout the day focused on character education, with common lessons planned by the Chiefs Challenge club. Working in small groups, students created T-shirts focused on the golden rule and wrote acrostic poems from words like “kindness” and “respect.” A new activity this year focused on empathy, and students drew comic strips or storyboards based on different scenarios. Their characters had to demonstrate empathy.

 

Chiefs Challenge members hung large posters with inspirational quotes around the building and also put notes with positive messages on every locker in the school. Students from the club hope Character Education Day made a positive difference and that more of their peers will become upstanders.

 

“It’s important because we always try to help others who are feeling down,” eighth grader Ty M. said. “This day is all about doing something simple that can brighten someone’s day.”

 

The blue and gold notes on each locker meant “everybody’s getting at least one positive message throughout the day,” Ty added.

 

Valentina I. and Randall R. explained that students should live with a purpose of being kind to people. The lessons throughout the day demonstrated ways that they can go about their day-to-day lives with open hearts.

 

“It’s easier to build someone up than bring them down,” Valentina said. “It’s always good to do random acts of kindness.”

 

Chiefs Challenge is advised by teachers Caroline Glynn and Juliette Happe. They and students in the club spent many hours preparing for Character Education by creating the lessons, decorating the school and preparing the schedule. Ms. Glynn and Ms. Happe explained that each session included a presentation on a topic, followed by a hands-on activity for students to put their knowledge into practice.

 

“We want them to learn how to create a culture here at Berner where bullying is not the norm,” Ms. Glynn said, “and where they have the courage to be an upstander.”

 

Superintendent Dr. William Brennan described it as a “day of impactful learning, reflection and opportunity.” He commended students for their engagement in the activities and really taking the messages to heart.

 

“They were having deep conversations as middle school students,” Dr. Brennan said, and it was really powerful.”