Along with hugs, a lot of girls at Midway High School wiped tears from their faces as they thought about their peers suffering from bullying. Some were even victims themselves. Thanks to some special guests, students at Midway High School learned a lot about kindness and good character.
As a part of National Bullying Prevention Month, Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul of The Kind Campaign visited the school to spread awareness about the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl bullying.
“We’ve seen amazing results and responses to this work,” Paul said.
Inside the auditorium, students shared stories related to bullying and watched a documentary, “Finding Kind,” created by Thompson and Paul. The work of the Los Angeles-based filmmakers is being shown to thousands of students across the United States. Midway’s High School and elementary school received a free screening.
Thompson believes it’s important to start the conversation about female bullying or the mean girl phenomenon.
“When we bring this issue up, they realize everyone is on the same page and they have the ability to create change and it doesn’t have to be this way,” Thompson said. “Through the film and the assembly program, we just see so much change created.”
After watching the film, the students made pledges to be more kind through activities conducted by Thompson and Paul.
“It’s important for girls to be having these conversations and realize that this doesn’t have to be their school experience and that they do have the ability to take action and use their voice to create change,” Thompson said.
Midway guidance counselor Larinda Haight said it was important for the students to watch the presentation. She said the stories in the documentary are mirrors of local students.
“Daily, we get girls who are having girl-on-girl drama and students with suicidal thoughts who are just depressed,” Haight said. “A lot of it goes back to drama between girls and social media.”
Olivia Davis, a senior at Midway High School, enjoyed participating in the King Campaign activities. She experienced it her freshman year, but during the recent visit, she believes everyone was a little more open about the problem.
“Today, we actually we reevaluated ourselves and became closer like a family,” Davis said. “The help of these two girls, really helped us express our emotions that we’ve had balled up inside.”
Davis, a cheer co-captain, admitted to being bullied in her life an doing the same.
“I’ve also been down in the dumps feeling so insecure and broken, because I felt that I wasn’t worth it,” Davis said.
She said it’s something challenging within her age group.
“We’re trying to stick with all of our friends and people that we’ve grown up with,” Davis said. “We’ve grown up with everybody, but now it’s just kind of heard to be who we’re supposed to be because bullying keeps getting in the way …
“In reality nobody is better, we’re all the same.”
Inside the gymnasium, male students received advice about making good choices and having good character. The guest speakers included Justin Fann, Chief Warrant Officer II, US Army, a 2003 Midway Graduate; Dennis Williams, certified registered nurse anesthetist at WakeMed Health System,a 2005 Midway Graduate; Nick Pope, North Carolina Highway Patrol, a 2002 Midway Graduate; and Leonard Henry, a former basketball coach at Midway High School.
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, spoke to students about making the right decisions.
“The choices that you make dictate the person you choose to be,” Bracy said to the students.
Another one of his message was to “pause” and take the high road, especially when using social media.
“When it’s out there, it’s out there,” Bracy said. “It may get deleted, but people already seen it.”
Williams talked to the male students about how Midway and his involvement in clubs prepared him for college, which included making presentations. He also discussed the importance of trusting teachers and networking throughout life.
“If I can do it, you can do it,” Williams said. “It all started here at Midway.”
One of his last messages of the medical professional was about making the right decisions.
“I’ve been with plenty of patients that made the wrong decisions,” Williams said.
During his remarks to the male students, Henry talked about the importance of not hanging around negative people or “dream killers.”
“I think big, I dream big and I just think big,” Henry said.
It’s a message Principal Monty Strickland stressed too.
“We want good thoughts to turn into good actions,” Strickland said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.