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Students become a symbol of hope

Mohonasen students form peace sign as part of anti-bullying campaign

Pinewood Intermediate School students form a living peace sign Friday, Oct. 12, as part of the school's anti-bullying campaign.

Pinewood Intermediate School students form a living peace sign Friday, Oct. 12, as part of the school's anti-bullying campaign. Photo by John Purcell.

— Pinewood Intermediate School students have taken a stand against bullying — literally.

On a windy Friday, Oct. 12, students gathered outside the Mohonasen school, which teaches third through fifth grade, to form a school-wide human peace symbol likely large enough for airborne travelers to see.

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Pinewood Intermediate School students form a living peace sign.

“We figure if we all take a stand against bullying, we all show good character … that we are going to have a bully-free school,” said Amy Christopher, a counselor at Pinewood.

Pinewood Principal Deborah Kavanaugh-Farnan said forming the peace symbol helped promote school community. The students also made a pledge against bullying that will be hung throughout the school. About 640 students attend Pinewood.

“We really want to instill in them that kindness, respect, tolerance and difference … is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives,” Kavanaugh-Farnan said.

The moment of solidarity was part of the school’s month long anti-bullying campaign, which features classroom lessons on respect, a school-wide assembly, wearing different colors each Friday and highlighting certain positive character traits.

Kavanaugh-Farnan said the activities this school year are “a little more focused” than previous efforts.

“To have everybody together as a school community … and show them that they may disagree but we are still a school community and we need to respect each other,” she said. “I think just that visualization for them (of the peace symbol) sends a strong message.”

Friday’s theme was Peaceful Friday, so school employees and students were encouraged to wear purple to show unity.

“We are all wearing purple to show we are working together to create a peaceful environment, which will then decrease bullying as well,” Christopher said. “(The students) really enjoy it and I think wearing a different color each Friday has brought them together as a school community.”

The Pinewood Character Education Committee is sponsoring the anti-bullying month, which is part of the Character Counts Program. Each month, the school focuses on a different theme, such as respect or honesty. Teachers also try to integrate monthly themes into coursework.

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