SPOONER, Wis. -- There is something drastically different when a cause is student-driven. A leading group of seventh graders at the Spooner Middle School are proving this to be true.

Four such remarkable students; Denim Wireman, Keegan Gunderson, Emmy Romportl and Molly Arf have been friends for years. This group of young leaders spoke up and chose to take a proactive approach to combat school bullying. 

These young leaders and a small group of other peers brought their concerns to Mr. Larrabee the Spooner Middle School principal. They were disheartened that their own fellow students, who started out as friends at the beginning of the year, had turned into bullies. It was to this principle’s credit that instead of blowing the situation off, he gave them an assignment; figure out how to as a group of leaders work with their friends to solve the problem.

Since this incident did not occur until this past March, the Anti-Bully Crew (ABC) barely got started with their campaign agenda before the end of the school year loomed. However, to these students credit, they’ve already made lots of creative decisions for next year’s outreach and they will have plans in place as soon as the doors open in the fall.

Ashley Villella, the middle school’s School Social Worker, is the facilitator of this dynamic group of leaders and credits these students for stepping up and coming up with a swarm of original ideas. One of which was to put out sign-up sheets for sub-committee members to help with the outreach.

When the committee first met and began their short campaign, there were many distracters saying it was a stupid idea and made fun of them. As time went on and the sign-up sheets came out, the team was surprised to see the number of names of the original distracters who now wanted to be a part of the outreach. 

Names on the sheet were not just seventh graders, but it included the students from fifth and sixth grades. Next year these seventh graders will be at the top grade and they plan to spend their last year at the middle school being a powerful force for good.

The ABC’s have already raised awareness through their poster campaign and the school’s morning announcements. They’ve had a part in the school’s monthly Rails Rally’s where the approximately 350 middle school students gather for announcements, information, celebrations, games and music. It’s one of the places the team has already targeted to present a program to their fellow classmates next year, just like the BEAR (Because Everyone Appreciates Respect) awareness group the high school kids students started last fall.

One of the favorite mottos the team really likes is “Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter”, and they live out the sentiment by targeting kids who are alone at lunch, or anywhere else during the school day and make the effort to get to know them and asking them to join forces with them.

This formidable team is anxious to make a serious dent in the middle school student body culture.  They endorse a message that “words can hurt you” and at least “they can try”, and that they “can’t stop trying.”

Give them the credit they deserve and watch what this dedicated team of students will accomplish by the time they’re seniors.


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