Student Leaders Invite Classmates to Walk
"In My Shoes"
This March, 1540 John Marshall High School students were given the opportunity to walk in the shoes of students who had been bullied, a chance to understand the impact bullying had on some of their classmates.
Student Leaders Creating Change (SLCC) is a Diversity Council-led program that trains high schoolers to prevent and intervene in bullying situations. After ten weekly after school training sessions, participants organize a community service project. Past projects have included community-wide presentations, films followed by discussion groups, and lobbying state legislators to pass an anti-bullying bill. This is the second year that SLCC students, led by junior Roohi Katarya (pictured), have presented "In My Shoes" as one of their projects.
Four students--some SLCC members and others recruited by SLCC--wrote down their personal experiences with bullying and courageously took the stage to share their hurt with their peers. Many students in the audience shared afterwards what a powerful impact it had on them to hear the personal stories, stories that made it abundantly clear how deeply bullying strikes at the soul.
As one student wrote this year, "Being left out, excluded, ostracized makes you feel completely alone. You ask yourself why? What did I do wrong? Am I really that awful? After a while you start to feel like they're right. Maybe, you are that 'weird' girl." Another used to stand outside in the cold to give himself bronchitis so he could stay home from school; he eventually dropped out completely because of the constant harassment.
But their stories also gave hope. One told of how a student who had harassed her brought her brownies and a letter of apology. She said, "I don't think I can express in words how much that meant to me. How much that one little kind act did for me. I don't think I have ever felt that good before in my life." Kindness changed her world.
Another who had persevered in spite of the hurt urged her classmates, "Remember that we can't choose the hand we're dealt, but we can choose how we play it."
We applaud each one of these courageous students who stood up and allowed other to walk a moment in their shoes. It's stories like theirs that will make others think twice before allowing cruel words to come out of their mouths. These student leaders truly are creating change.