Sophomore Charles Kolin knows first-hand how devastating bullying can be. “I’ve had a bad history with bullying,” he said. It happened years ago when he moved to Connecticut from New York in fifth grade, but the memory of the experience is still painful. “I’ve taken that experience and I’ve said I want to use that to help other people.”
Kolin made it his mission to share his anti-bullying messaging with as many people as he can. In looking for ways to get involved, he discovered Pacer, an organization dedicated to bullying prevention, and its nationwide Unity Day on October 24. On that day, schools across the country will wear orange to show their commitment to preventing bullying.
“Orange provides a powerful, visually compelling expression of solidarity,” according to Paula Goldberg, Executive Director of Pacer Center, in a statement on the organization’s website. “Whether it’s hundreds of individuals at a school wearing orange, store owners offering orange products, or a community changing a landmark to orange, the vibrant statement becomes a conversation starter, sending the supportive, universal message that bullying is never acceptable behavior.”
Kolin has teamed up with the Upper School TACO Club (Teen Awareness and Conversation Opportunities) to bring Unity Day to GFA. They encourage anyone who wants to participate to wear orange that day, and the group will hand out orange wristbands as well. GFA’s Unity Day will go beyond wearing orange — the group also developed questions and prompts for students and faculty to discuss in advisory groups that day. The answers and sentiments that come from that discussion will be written down and posted on a wall in the Upper School for the remainder of the year.
“People can refer to that throughout the rest of the year so they can remember different ways they can help the community,” Kolin said.
After advisories, students in grades 8–12 are invited to the Bedford Gym to hear student speeches, poems, songs and, according to Kolin, “whatever art form they want to share that emphasizes kindness, inclusion, and anti-bullying.” The students will also be handing out notecards with positive and encouraging messages.
Going forward, Kolin hopes that the day’s events will spark further discussion in class meetings and advisory throughout the year.
“It would be great if it was a continual thing throughout the year— something that everyone sort of thinks about it in the back of their mind and says, ‘This is how I can be a beacon of light in someone else’s life.’”
Anyone who wants to get involved in the day’s events can email Kolin, or reach out to members of TACO.