Since the start of the school year, a group of eighth graders has been working in the D3 Lab as part of a daily Conflict Resolution Leadership elective. The group was given the task of identifying sources of conflict on campus and finding ways to help students work through these.
After their initial review of campus issues, the self-titled Young Advice Crew identified bullying as a very common occurrence at Nightingale. They began researching bullying and its effects at Nightingale and other middle schools and brainstorming how to reach out to those who have been affected by it at Nightingale. The Crew decided they wanted to find a way to let victims know they are available as a resource here at Nightingale and to give them an opportunity to move past their painful experiences.
Members of the Young Advice Crew then began crafting ideas for an event with activities that would be enjoyable and that would provide support and encouragement to their peers. After much deliberation, they decided to hold a “Letting Go Pizza Party.” Activity designs went through a series of drafts and revisions, until three were finalized: (1) a water balloon relay race designed by Jerome and Johan, (2) a therapeutic piñata game designed by Alyssa, and (3) a cathartic closing ceremony designed by Marisela.
On Friday, October 26, 2012, the last Friday in Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the party commenced with a welcome speech by Crew member Valerie. After introducing the Young Advice Crew and their mission, she stated, “We have all experienced bullying at one time or another. Today we can let go of the hurt and anger caused by these experiences.” Participants then broke into teams and competed to smash insult-labeled water balloons on the ground during a nose-to-nose relay race. During Angry Piñata, they lined up, reflected on a time they were picked on, and then let their anger out by hitting the piñata. When it broke, notes of encouragement flowed out alongside the candy.
After some pizza, students gathered in a circle to hear Vice Principal Allwright give a speech comparing challenges faced by victims of bullying to those faced by butterflies during their growth process, noting that in the end we all grow into beautiful creatures. Led by Marisela, participants went around the circle to share a painful memory of being bullied that they were ready to let go of. One student recalled being repeatedly pushed around by the same person on the black top while another talked about being ridiculed because of her weight. After sharing, everyone in attendance was given a butterfly wrapped in paper. The group then simultaneously released these into the air as a symbol of hope. The ceremony was named “Wings of Hope” after the breeders who donated the butterflies to Nightingale for the event.
Participants left the Letting Go Pizza Party smiling and thanking their hosts for inviting them. The Young Advice Crew plans to begin addressing other types of conflicts at Nightingale in the coming months, while continuing to act as a resource for victims of bullying as needed.