Collins-Maxwell students take a ‘hand’ against bullying

Marlys BarkerTri-County
Times Editor
Collins-Maxwell students take a ‘hand’ against bullying

Students in sixth through 12th grade in the Collins-Maxwell School District have put up their hands against bullying.

In a colorful way, the students who attend the Maxwell building, which houses those grades, have created a wall display to remind them about the importance of “taking a hand against bullying every day.”

The anti-bullying wall, filled with the colorful handprints of every sixth through 12th grade student and staff member in Maxwell, is positioned in the main hallway of the building and was the idea of the high school and middle school Principal’s Council, which was started this school year.

Principal Jordan Nelson said he started the Principal’s Councils to find out what issues are on students’ minds.

“One thing that came up is that there are a lot of students who, A) don’t really understand what bullying is, and B) don’t tell anyone when bad things are happening to them,” he said. The High School Principal’s Council put together an anti-bullying week in April that was filled with activities to draw awareness to the issue. “An anti-bullying wall was an idea from one of our students, based upon something she found on the Internet. It was definitely the most well-received of all the activities.”

Helping make the project come to life was Collins-Maxwell art instructor Rich Byrd, who painted the mural portion in the center of the wall, and who has been working with art students to paint 13-inch letters that will go above the mural. “We will put the words, ‘Take a Stand — Lend a Hand — Stop Bullying’ at the top,” Byrd said. The letters will be painted in the art room and then hung on the wall. The mural Byrd painted in the center of the wall is from a picture that Nelson found online.

Nelson said each year, all new sixth-graders in the school will add their handprints to the wall, and any new students coming into the school or new staff, will add their prints as well.

“Bullying is a huge buzzword in education and society in general,” Nelson said. “I believe that people don’t understand completely what it is, along with many not reporting it and many students not understanding what effects it can have on other people.” Nelson is proud of the work that has been done by the Principal’s Council in having activities about the subject and leading the charge on a very visible acknowledgement of a stand against bullying.

He also liked that high school kids worked with middle school kids on this project. Two of the days of the anti-bullying week had high school students speaking to middle school students about bullying. Because of that, middle school students are now requesting to spend more time learning from their older peers, something that can be implemented in other ways in the coming years, Nelson hopes.

In all, Byrd estimates about 13 to 16 hours or so of work in the project, and even though he doesn’t believe it will totally stop bullying, he hopes it will raise awareness. “I’m always happy to do my part here at Collins-Maxwell and love adding art to our school buildings… If it (the wall) makes even one student think about their actions and … about being kinder to other people, then I feel it was time well-spent.”