Venice | Students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice came together on Oct. 24, wearing orange to show that they are united for togetherness, acceptance, and inclusion as they stood up against bullying in celebration of Unity Day.
Because bullying affects more than one in every five students around the country, Unity Day is a simple call to action — to wear and share orange, visibly showing that society believes no child should ever experience bullying. The theme is “We stand together, no one stands alone!”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and in the week leading up to Unity Day every Epiphany classroom had lessons to aide students in learning what bullying is and how to stop it, explained Guidance Counselor Pamela Burke, who helped organize the Unity activities and lessons. Burke was assisted by other teachers as well as by the Student Council, which includes representatives from the top grades who work to help build community at the school.
One important activity in the classrooms was the creation of orange chains that symbolize togetherness, acceptance and inclusion and to let everyone know that when they all stand together, no one stands alone.
Students were asked to put their name on their chain’s link and key words or drawings that symbolize the lessons they learned about unity and bullying prevention. One students said unity equaled the Church, because the Catholic Church is a strong symbol of unity in defense of all against evil. Another student drew a tree, which she said showed that when the leaves fall it is like bullying and the tree is hurt, but if the leaves stick together, the tree is safe and grows stronger.
“These are just some of the small examples of some of the things that came out of the lessons,” Burke explained.
The classrooms chains were connected and brought to the Unity Day celebrations. There they were all linked together to create a huge chain symbolizing the unity of the students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School standing up to bullying.
In addition, each student was also given an orange glow-in-the-dark wristband to serve as a daily reminder to treat others with kindness and love, including their classmates, friends, teachers, schools staff, coaches, volunteers, family members, and even strangers.
“You each need to choose kindness,” Burke said. “The wristbands represent kindness and the light you can shine on others by your choices. Change begins with you. I’m convinced that each of you, and the entire school, can make a positive impact.”
To finish off the Unity Day celebration, the students sang and danced to an anti-bullying song and then got together for a group picture.
The PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center created Unity Day in 2011 and focused on the color orange as the day’s unifying symbol. According to the Center, orange is a color commonly identified with the autumn season and is often associated with safety and visibility. It is a color described as warm and inviting, and its vibrancy makes an impactful statement. Other Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Venice celebrated Unity Day in differing ways.
To learn more about Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, visit www.ecstigers.org.