Students take pledge to #erasemeanness

Students put their pledges on the wall

Lisa Brugel says she has seen bullying at school and is frustrated when she sees students watch what is happening and not do anything about it.

Classmate Ellie Barrett said she hasn’t seen bullying, but realizes the importance of at least one act of kindness every day.

Ellie and Lisa, along with classmates in Jennifer Ward’s English classes, have taken to the hallways to spread the word about being good to one another.

What started the day as a few widely spaced pledge cards became a veritable wall of kindness, with more than 100 actions students planned to take throughout the day to promote kindness.

“The #EraseMeanness activity is something that could hold you accountable for your actions to other people in school,” Lisa said. “It makes us aware of what is happening in our school and how to change it.” 

Added Ellie: “It can make someone’s day much better and higher their self-esteem. I really liked the Erase Meanness activity because it made me think about the little deeds I can do and say to my classmates to make them feel good.”

Grandville High School is participating in a national movement to erase meanness in schools

National Movement

The national movement to #EraseMeanness started in Indiana teacher Eric Johnson’s sixth grade classroom, when he noticed that some of his students engaged in unkind behavior. This year more than 130,000 students have taken the pledge in elementary, middle and high schools across the country.

Ward connected with Johnson on social media. 

“The idea of promoting kindness as a way to build empathy in our schools is something that I am passionate about,” Ward said. “Because the Erase Meanness day falls early in the school year, it is a great way to start the year by building discussions of kindness into the classroom.”

As part of the initiative, students start by having classroom conversation about what a pledge means. After talking about ways to be kind, they write down an action on pledge cards and post them where other students and teachers can see them, Ward said.

“If we just write it down on the card and toss it in our bags, we likely won’t take that action,” Ward said. “We make a pledge to ourselves and our community to do something to be kind.”

The Erase Meanness initiative, along with the Be Nice program already in practice at the school, are helping students realize the power of being kind, Ellie said.

“Grandville has done a great job of creating a safe environment for students by promoting the Be Nice program which encourages students to notice, invite, challenge and empower,” she said. 

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Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit. Read Hannah's full bio or email Hannah.

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