About 500 students and 85 teachers and staff members at Komarek School in North Riverside surrounded the buildings and joined hands Wednesday to mark Unity Day, part of a national anti-bullying campaign promoted by the Minnesota-based PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights).
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, around which PACER created its anti-bullying campaign in 2006. Komarek School picked up on the campaign’s Unity Day this year. Wednesday was the first time the school has marked the occasion.
Komarek School this year has been emphasizing bullying prevention, said school social worker Jamie Kleinschmidt.
“This year we decided to come together as a school and community to show everybody how united our school is,” Kleinschmidt said. “It’s a message we’ve been trying to promote here at the school. We do a lot of bullying prevention. We do a character education class every Friday in our enrichments, so we’ve been trying to find new ways to get the school to be aware of bullying.”
Students and staff wore orange ribbons and T-shirts reading “Wildcats Unite Against Bullying.” Students also decorated paper hands and affixed to the windows of the school overpass in the shape of hearts and peace symbols.
As the students stood outside on a warm autumn day and laughed as honey locust tree leaves wafted down onto their heads, they held hands and listened to Taylor Swift’s recording of the song “Mean” over the school’s outdoor intercom system, prompting several kids to take the opportunity to sing along.