Eighth grade student, Lauren Cruger, like other students across the U.S. has experienced the recipient side of bullying. Cruger indicated she's been teased while being a student in the Granite Falls School District and wants to stand up to the problem.
An epidemic that causes 160,000 children a day to stay home from school due to the fear of being bullied, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Bullying is violence, and it often leads to more violent behavior with time. Principal of the Middle School, Dave Bianchini, stated, "This year, our focus has been on improving our culture and climate."
There has been a tremendous effort among staff and students to create positive synergy in the school. The Middle School has also received community support in brightening up the school's atmosphere and enhancing the school's image.
Technology Educational Center Outreach (TECO) members helped the art students' design and cut letters for some artwork in the hallways.
The art class took on the project of painting the hallways orange and black (school colors) and writing motivating education-based comments all around the school. In addition, several art students are currently creating drawings that depict current popular books.
"It has significantly contributed to the overall positive culture in the school," said Bianchini.
Among the many students articulating positive culture throughout the schools, Cruger has stood out for her exceptional contributions. She has created several posters with inspiring quotes and has also written several letters to teachers and staff expressing her gratitude.
Her creations are currently hanging in the main area of the Middle School as an encouragement to students walking by. Some of the communication the posters include: "You matter, don't ever forget that" and a quote from Anne Frank, "I don't think of all the misery, but the beauty that still remains."
Cruger's recent accomplishment was a task that no one dreamt she would actually undertake. Principal Dave Bianchini, even chuckled when she proposed the idea. Bianchini mentioned that Cruger came to him and asked if she could write a positive note to each and every student and post that note on every student's locker.
Doing the math in his head, Bianchini responded, "That's 431 comments." Bianchini indicated he never dreamt she would get that many done nor did he think he would hear anything more about it.
On a Friday afternoon, a few days after the conversation with Principal Bianchini, Cruger walked into the Middle School office with a grocery bag full of notes that included positive comments written out for each and every student.
She spent six hours preparing each unique statement and three hours after school hanging them on the student's lockers. These notes provided positive words of encouragement, such as: "You are worth it;" "You are you, don't let anyone change that;" "Have a great day."
These were just some of the notes that were still hanging on the lockers one week after she had posted them.
Bianchini shared, "The following Monday the excitement on each student's face was priceless when they saw their lockers."
Students were overheard saying that the comments were perfect for what they were experiencing.
"The impact was remarkable and I will never forget the experience of what I saw and heard after students noticed what she did," added Bianchini.
Cruger wanted people to be aware of the impact words can have; good or bad. In this case, her goal was "to help people know that I care about them, and if no one else does, I do," said Cruger.
Several students approached Principal Bianchini asking him if he wrote the notes. To reiterate the same message Cruger desired to convey, Bianchini told them, "It was a special student who cares about you."
Cruger admitted she has gone through some hard times and recognizes her commonality among peers in the sea of adolescent pressure.
As an act of pure selflessness and appreciation for her students, "I hope to help people notice that other people care about them." Cruger indicated she had an overwhelming positive response from the students who knew it was her, "people hugged me and thanked me," she said. "I felt pretty happy" knowing that I had made an impact on my fellow peers. Bianchini added, "This random act of kindness by Lauren Cruger is one great example how GFMS students care for their classmates and contribute to a positive place!"
The Granite Falls School District is committed to maintaining a safe and civil educational environment for all students free from harassment, intimidation, and bullying. Students will not be harassed because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability, or other distinguishing characteristics.
Any student who believes he or she has been the target of harassment, intimidation, or bullying is strongly encouraged to report incidents verbally or in writing to a parent, guardian, staff member or trusted adult. The student, parent, or other adult, should notify school officials as soon as possible by completing an incident report form. The District's compliance officer, Carol Panagos or designee, can be reached at 360-691-7717.