Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 30, 2009
J.H. Picard Silence Day aims to halt student bullying
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Cory Muir, 15, left; Keiara Montgomery, 14; Raelynne Khan, 12; Matthew Scott, 14; and Larissa Baxter, 12 all sealed their mouths for Silence Day.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — They used to call her names, push her around and make her feel rejected and unwanted.
Student Larissa Baxter, 12, was bullied so much in lower grades she was forced to change schools twice. She moved to J.H. Picard School last year and says the bullying has stopped. “They don’t allow it here.”
But as the lingering effects of bullying haven’t yet gone away from her life, Larissa decided to take action against the abuse.
On March 23 the Grade 7 student joined almost 300 junior high students in an action day called Silent Day designed to raise awareness about bullying. Like many of her peers Larissa taped her mouth to avoid talking. “It was a bit hard because I’m a talkative person,” she said. When she wanted to communicate she wrote messages on a piece of paper or used hand signals.
The silent action served its purpose, Larissa said. “If you don’t say anything, no bullying is going to happen.”
Cory Muir, 15, said if anything, Silence Day created awareness that bullying is a form of abuse that is not allowed at J.H. Picard.
He said silence makes one aware of the privilege of talking and the need to use that privilege wisely, not to hurt others. “It was hard (to stay silent all day) because I wanted to talk to people,” he laughed.
For Raelynne Khan, 12, it was somewhat of a sacrifice to be silent because she wanted to talk to some people in school that she was having trouble with. But she was glad to be part of the action because “I was bullied a lot and I was pushed around a lot because I was always the shortest person in class.”
“I took part in this action because I want to stand up for kids that are bullied,” she said. “By being silent all day we are creating awareness and preventing abuse.”
Teacher Nicole Fournier organized Silent Day as a Lenten project. “Silence is a very powerful tool; we use it in church to reflect, to listen and to understand,” she said. “I thought if we work in silence as a group of 300, we would be a very powerful group.”
When there is silence, bullying is likely not taking place, Fournier said. “For one day a person could hide from the bullying and feel safe and respected.”
“In the kingdom of God we are all equal and for once in our silence the meek became strong and powerful and respected because today everybody was on the same page,” Fournier added. “Everybody was equal (today) just like God meant for us to be.”
She said it was marvellous to be able to teach without interruption for at least a day.
Teacher Graziella Piano also appreciated the silence. “I was pleasantly surprised to see they were able to stay silent all day. Hopefully it helps.”
Teacher Marianne Darlet, who teaches three Grade 9 classes, was equally impressed. She said silence was the right way to go because “there is too much talking in our world and not much doing.”
“Students are social and for them it was very difficult to stay silent all day but they are so committed to achieving social justice they followed it through. I applaud them for that.”
Workshops on bullying and its effects will follow the action, Fournier said.