Photo Gallery: BART Anti-bullying Campaign Rally
ADAMS -- After students piled into the atrium at Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter School on Thursday, their hands shot into the air -- over and over.
The middle schoolers raised their arms if they had ever been called fat, stupid, or ugly. They raised their hands if they'd ever been cyberbullied, or been made fun of for their clothes. With each question, the majority of the 211 middle school students' hands extended upward.
"Student government is here to make a difference today," shouted Cassidy Salvatore, its sophomore president.
The BART student government held a rally and launched a new anti-bullying initiative, handing out bracelets to every student in the middle and high school who signs a "commitment to respect pledge." The bracelet reads "kindness, support, empathy, compassion, acceptance."
"We're bringing together our community, and putting an end to bullying," said Alexis Lesure, the vice president of the student government.
Lesure, a sophomore, said bullying is not as much of a problem in the high school, where class sizes are a smaller. But older students took action after they grew concerned that larger classes in the middle school were beginning to see instances of bullying.
"We were just thinking of ways we could better our school," Lesure said. "This is the most important thing we could do."
Among the commitments students were made were to make BART a "safe and supportive community," support those who feel they're being bullied, and "accepting others as they are and celebrating differences."
Salvatore said the initiative is to help students realize they can make changes in the school's environment themselves, and prevent a small conflict from becoming a larger one. With the pledge, she said, students will have the grounds to enforce an anti-bullying code.
"We wanted to make sure this environment is safe," she said.
The student government is also aiming to hold more spirit days -- one every month -- for the same purpose of building unity among students.
"Even if you don't like someone ... at least have empathy," Lesure said.
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