Students Stand Together Against Bullying

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FREDERICK, Md. – Frederick County students took a stand against bullying on Thursday and came up with new ways to promote kindness in their schools.

Frederick County middle school students promised to honor Rachel Scott’s legacy by accepting her challenge last October.

“To encourage people to be positive and create communities where people help each other rather than bring down each other,” said Malcolm Furgol, director of community impact for the United Way of Frederick County.

Rachel Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Her parents developed a five-step school improvement process named Rachel’s Challenge in her memory. Participating students encourage each other to put an end to bullying.

“I think it’s really important that these kids have taken it on their own to say, ‘Hey, I want to make a difference. Hey, I want to do something about that,’” said Furgol.

“Kids hear a lot about bullying but that’s kind of negative. We wanted to be positive, so we’ve taken Rachel’s Challenge, and made it at our school the year of kindness,” said Reginald Gunter, a school counselor at Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School.

About 150 middle school students came together for an all-day event to discuss what they’ve done in their schools after accepting the challenge. High school students were also on location to share their experiences with bullying and the process of transitioning to a new school.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel and there’s always a rainbow after the storm, and everything will work out in the end,” said Jessica Bayuk, Miss Western Maryland’s Outstanding Teen 2015 and a student at Frederick High School. “I was bullied in middle school and now I’m in high school and now I’m not, so things have turned up for me and they’ll turn up for them too.”

Organizers hope kids walk away with new respect and acceptance for each other, as well as a new sense of excitement for their future. 

“Just be yourself. If you can’t fit in one group, you’re going to fit in somewhere else and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t,” said Bayuk.

School officials encourage both students and parents to report bullying. If bullying happens at school, parents can contact their child’s teacher, school counselor, or administrator. Parents can also fill out a bullying incident form at www.fcps.org/forms. If bullying occurs outside of school, call 2-1-1 for additional community resource information. Contact law enforcement for any threats or physical harm.

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