Chillicothe Middle School Stands Up To Bullying

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Over 160,000 students in the United States don't go to school because they're afraid of being bullied.

Chillicothe School District stood up Wednesday to say, "that’s not okay."

Over 100 students at Chillicothe Middle School participated in a hands on anti-bullying workshop. 

The program is called "Rachel's Challenge," created in memory of Rachel Joy, a victim of the Columbine High School shooting.

After her death Rachel’s family found journal entries, diaries and essays filled with inspirational and positive messages for teenagers in school.

Nina Daniels, the speaker at Wednesday's assembly, says this program brings a different approach to bullying.

"It’s teaching these students how to be the change, be the best person they can be. One person at a time. Not coming up against the bully, but actually reaching out to the person who’s hurting other people,” Daniels said.

Students at the leadership workshop addressed signs of bullying at their school like cliques and gossiping and then came up with concrete projects geared towards creating kindness.

This is the first year Chillicothe Middle School has conducted this program.

Lance Stoneking, a guidance counselor at the school, says he’s worked with this program in other schools and he’s excited to see it take hold of Chillicothe.

"It was very powerful. It was very inspirational and I think our students really accepted the challenge,” Stoneking said.

"Rachel's Challenge" is not just a one day program. "For Club" is aimed at making a permanent impact, creating constant projects and reminders that work against bullying.

"We already have an anti-bullying group, so piggybacking off of that group with the ‘For’ club. The ideas given today, and the leadership training they went through today. 100 students went through leadership training and I think that provides the foundation needed for us to move forward,” Stoneking said.

“If one person could go out of their way to show kindness, it could start a chain reaction,” Daniels said.

Some students already brainstormed some ideas for kindness projects, including a positive social media campaign, a paper chain reaction symbol and colored handprints around the school to increase awareness.

The money for the program is being provided through a donation by Ross County Judge Richard G. Ward.