By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — District students showed a united front against bullying during Unity Day on Wednesday.
Sponsored by the national anti-bullying group PACER, Unity Day encouraged students across America to wear orange to show solidarity with the victims of bullying.
Danville High School brought their event together in about two weeks, thanks to the help of student diversity and anti-bullying groups SADD, Spectrum and SUSOBO.
The high school kicked off Unity Day with a showing of the documentary “Bully” Tuesday night. About 25 to 30 students attended the showing, according to school guidance counselor and SUSOBO advisor Stephenie Butler.
The next day, about 150 students wore orange for Unity Day. “For short notice, I was impressed by how many kids wore orange,” said Butler, who said she saw numerous students in classrooms wearing the color. “I think it turned out really well.”
Students helped get word out about Unity Day on short notice. “We were all contemplating what to do to stand up for people being bullied,” said student Joshua Johnson, the senior class representative for SADD. The timing of the event was right, and it helped that orange is one of Danville’s school colors. “You often see students wear orange to show off school pride,” he said, which gave an added meaning to the day.
Superintendent Cheryl Latorre sent a notice across the district about Unity Day, which resulted in students at all grade levels wearing orange, Butler said.
In addition, teachers across the district were allowed to dress down in orange clothing, as long as they gave a monetary donation, which will go toward a scholarship fund. The SADD, Spectrum and SUSOBO groups will determine the criteria for how the fund is awarded. They are still deciding on specific criteria for the fund, Johnson said. “It should go to a student who really deserves it,” he said.
“I’m proud we’re doing something to stand up for bullying,” said English teacher and SADD advisor Erin Coughey. Bullying doesn’t take the same form it used to, she said. It’s not as much a physical activity anymore and more frequently takes the form of cyber harassment, over text messages or the Internet.
“I think this is going in the right direction,” said Johnson about Unity Day. “It shows support (for the bullied), and if we can show we support them it means we care for them.”