AKRON — Tippecanoe Valley Middle School recently held a weeklong series of activities aimed at supporting student leadership, anti-bullying and a positive school climate.
During the week of Feb. 6 – 10, students participated in “See Each Other” week, a time dedicated to getting students to start noticing and respecting their peers.
At the beginning of the week, Principal Scott Backus met with each homeroom to discuss with students the importance of treating people with respect and how to earn it in return.
“We wanted to bring to light the idea that we can be compassionate, inclusive, and care about one another. If we can do these things, so many of the negative issues that kids face today would be reduced,” said Backus.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, students watched videos about how to “See Each Other” by showing compassion and empathy. A short writing piece and discussion followed.
“Watching the students step out of their comfort zone and interact with others that they normally wouldn’t was a nice experience,” said Candace Shepard, TVMS librarian.
Students were also challenged to become more interactive at lunch. On Thursday, students were randomly assigned to tables. At each table were peer facilitators from the high school to initiate conversation. Peer facilitators are high school students who mentor, work to resolve conflicts, and tutor other students.
“I found it interesting to hear new things about people I don’t usually talk to. I even found out new things that I didn’t know about my friends,” said Jada Hicks, an eighth grade student at TVMS.
Teachers and para-professionals also sat at the tables and interacted with the students. The cooks modified the lunch procedure to get the food out quicker, while the office staff and custodians jumped in to help by cleaning tables and picking up trays.
“It was truly an amazing thing to see the entire staff come together and support this activity,” said Backus.
While some students were in the lunchroom, others watched messages from the Kid President, a teenager from Tennessee who stars in his own YouTube videos that promote positivity, inspiration, and unity. The students also viewed three short videos about caring for others.
“They held discussions about the videos and hopefully took away some important ideas about how they, too, can care for others,” said Backus.
TVMS finished the week with a school-wide presentation by author and youth motivational speaker Tom Thelen. His presentation focused on student leadership and bullying prevention.