By Matt Kane
DELANO It’s not unusual to see orange-clad students walking the halls of Delano High School, where the school colors are orange and black, but this Wednesday, Oct. 9, a non-formal student leadership group at the school hopes to see more orange than ever in those hallways and around the city of Delano in honor of Pacer’s Unity Day.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
“Our kids here don’t like to be around bullying so they generally want to stop it,” Delano High School Principal Dr. Steve Heil said.
Those students don’t just want to stop bullying in the school system; they want to stop it in the community, as well.
“They came to me and asked, ‘How cool would it be if we could do this district-wide and to have parents and community members wear orange, as well?’” Heil said of the student group’s idea to spread the anti-bullying message outside the school walls.
“They said, ‘let’s have bully awareness community-wide.’ We know it doesn’t only happen in school. It happens everywhere. Everybody should be aware of it, so we are asking everybody to wear orange.”
Delano senior Gabby Cordes, who is a member of that student group, has been spreading the message about Unity Day.
“At soccer games, I will see people from the community and tell them to wear orange Wednesday,” she said. “Everybody seems to be supportive of it.”
The school day Wednesday will go about as usual. An announcement to recognize Stop Bullying Day will be made and the issue will be addressed.
“We will talk about importance of reporting bullying, and promoting how great it is that we have differences.”
A new kind of bullying
It seems just about every 1980s movie based on high-school teenagers features a bully flushing a nerd’s head in a toilet, stuffing one in a locker, or giving an atomic wedgy. While those old movies depict physical bullying in a comical way, today’s bullying is no laughing matter.
Instead of the incidences being limited to school hours, today’s victims can be bullied around the clock from anywhere, thanks to social media.
“Because of Facebook and Twitter, the kids never get away from it,” Heil said. “Ten or 15 years ago, a kid could go home and not worry about the bully. Now, kids are constantly worrying about being badgered.”
There have been cases of social bullying starting in high school and continuing after graduation and even into college years.
“They are cyber-attacked by it,” Heil said.
Bullying at Delano Schools
Heil noted that bullying is not a major problem at Delano High School because of the tight-knit community and the fact that the students tend to know each other, play together, and work together.
“We have a few cases that pop up,” Heil explained. “We have students who come from other schools because they were being bullied at their old school. Overall, we don’t have too much of an issue of bullying.
“They know how to work through things together.”
And the students and faculty tend to report incidences before they become bullying.
If bullying isn’t a big problem at Delano, why have a special day to promote anti-bullying?
“We want to remind everybody bullying does happen, even if it is not here very often,” said Cordes.
The orange will serve as that reminder Wednesday.
“It’s a bright color and people will notice it,” said sophomore Jesse Lawman.
Cordes walks the halls of Delano High School every day during the school year. It’s not very often that she sees a bullying incident.
“You don’t see it much, but sometimes people can be bullying unintentionally,” she said.
If somebody witnesses an incident, he or she has several ways to report it, according to Heil.
“If in school, we get e-mails and phone calls or somebody can slide a letter under our doors,” he explained. “Most kids usually come to us and tell us this is happening. In the world of work, it is under that unhealthy work environment.”
To the school, a case is just an “incident,” according to Heil, until it turns into an ongoing situation. That is when it becomes bullying.
“When one side tries to assert power over a period of time, that’s when its becomes bullying,” Heil said. “Is it repeated, and have these events been going on for a while? Is there a power shift of trying to overpower one another?”
These are the questions Heil and his staff ask when assessing a situation.