Teachers at Sycamore Junior High School spent part of every day in class teaching students that how you treat one another matters. Days like Monday, and the deadly school shooting by someone believed to have been bullied, drive home the belief that it's a lesson they simply cannot stop teaching.
"We try to remind them that intolerance and exclusion, prejudice...they don't need to be a rite of passage for the typical adolescents," said Principal Karen Naber.
Visual reminders are on practically every wall, that character qualities like integrity and responsibility are expected of everyone. The student body also created a mural of the word, "peace" made up of student hand prints. It was inspired by Rachel's Challenge, an organization dedicated to the memory of Rachel Scott. Scott was the first student murdered at school in Columbine, Colorado in 1999.
"When her parents found her diary, they found a hand print in front of the diary that essentially had 5 different things written on the hand print, and that if kids would just do them, the world would be a better place. School would be a better place. Let's take a pledge that we will do those 5 things, we will live peacefully in our hallways," said Naber.
Sycamore students also recently participated in the making of a music video for Cincinnati musician Keenan West. The song, "Never, Ever" is intended to be a celebration of students who stand up to bullying. The song's video will premiere soon at Sycamore Jr. High.
Time and again, event after event, and day after day, Karen Naber says is what it takes for students to understand that respecting one another is the best way to succeed as a school, and, as it turns out, to try and prevent tragedies like the one in Chardon, Ohio.