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For National Unity Day, QES student officers, from left, Adria Black, Katelyn Miller, Kaleb Dupras, Gwen Betts and Kimberly Sanchez encouraged their classmates to make new friends using the school’s Buddy Bench, where they can meet and accept individual differences. Photos by Roni Java

Unity Day rallies students to promote acceptance, prevent bullying

Supported by PUSD Student Services Coordinator Rhonda Wayson, standing, back left, eight QES student officers held signs and led the lively Unity Day assembly for about 300 of their classmates with a sing-song rhyme about accepting one another’s differences. The officers are, from left, fourth-grader Abby Warren; fourth-grader Adria Black; fifth-grader Katelyn Miller; sixth-grader Kaleb Dupras; fifth-grader Gwen Betts; fifth-grader Kimberly Sanchez; fifth-grader Nathaniel Awbrey and sixth-grader Macy Peay.

With orange shirts in abundance, Quincy’s elementary, middle and high school students affirmed their commitments to kindness, acceptance and inclusion on their campuses during two separate assemblies held on National Unity Day, Oct. 25, at the elementary and junior-senior high schools.

At each event, students were encouraged to come to the microphone and make personal statements about valuing one another’s differences, as well as recommending ways to prevent bullying.

Unity Day has been observed since 2011 as a signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month. Individuals, schools, communities and businesses are encouraged to wear or display orange to show support for students who have been bullied. Nationwide, one in four school-age children will report being bullied at school.

According to information provided by the Plumas Unified School District, bullying is distinguished from accidental rudeness or even some categories of mean behavior. Bullying is defined as intentionally aggressive behavior that is repeated over time and involves an imbalance of power between the victim and the aggressor(s). The district’s information states that bullying may be harassment that is physical, verbal and relational, or carried out through technology such as texting and/or social media.

The PUSD has a zero-tolerance for bullying and families are encouraged to contact the district to report instances of intimidation either by phone, in person, or online at pcoe.k12.ca.us.

Quincy Elementary School

“I’ll stand up to bullies to make school a nicer place,” one student told the audience of approximately 300 Quincy Elementary School students.

Another said, “I’ll play fair and help others learn the rules of foursquare.”

The QES event featured themed poetry recited by a line of student officers holding signs for “QES UNITY.” Orange paper chains inscribed with handwritten student pledges also decorated the multipurpose room. Hands flew up for the chance to come up front and offer ideas for keeping school a safe and happy place.

The school’s newly refurbished “Buddy Bench” was also proudly displayed and the student officers sang a rhymed jingle about finding new friends when sitting on the bench.

Rhonda Wayson, who is Quincy’s student services coordinator for the Plumas Unified School District, led the first- through sixth-grade classes in an all-school affirmation:

I am a mountain kid.

Handmade paper chains, inscribed with student pledges such as “I will be kind,” helped decorate the QES auditorium.

I am kind.

I include others.

I accept differences.

“We want everyone to feel included,” Wayson said as the assembly drew to a close and many small heads nodded in agreement.

Quincy Junior-Senior High

More than 50 QJSHS students rallied on the high school lawn for an animated exchange of ideas about promoting a spirit of acceptance at their campus.

Coming up to the mic to share personal traits that they said make them feel different from their classmates, students enjoyed laughter and applause as they offered comments like, “I know I have an obnoxious laugh,” and “I’m really awkward — if you ever need someone to talk to, you can talk to me because I’m all sorts of different!”

On the topic of ways to improve student interactions, one said, “I feel we can increase our own positivity to accept and celebrate people’s differences.”

Coordinator Wayson led the students in a circle exercise with lengths of orange yarn that they took turns tying upon one another’s wrists as a symbol of commitment to embracing diversity and eliminating bullying behaviors should they arise.

“Quincy High has a goal of making our campus as inclusive as possible,” Wayson said as celebratory orange popsicles were handed out. “Bullying happens, it’s real. One in five students admit that it has happened to them, so let’s talk about ways to combat it and be aware of it so it doesn’t happen.”

PUSD’s Quincy Student Services Coordinator Rhonda Wayson, left, invited QES fifth-grader Evelyn Thielman-Gifford to the mic to make a statement about the importance of including everyone at her school so no one feels left out. Happily encouraging their classmate were QES student officers, from left, Abby Warren, Adria Black and Kaleb Dupras.
For help with issues of bullying:

Laura Kincaid – Chester
Student Services Coordinator [email protected]
Chester Elementary: 258-3194 Chester JSHS: 258-2126

Angela Nelson – Greenville
Student Services Coordinator
[email protected] 
Indian Valley Elementary and
Greenville JSHS: 284-7197

Rhonda Wayson – Quincy
Student Services Coordinator
[email protected] Quincy Elementary: 283-6550 Quincy JSHS: 283-6510

Shannon Harston – Portola
Student Services Coordinator
[email protected]
C. Roy Carmichael: 832-0211 Portola JSHS: 832-4284

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