Lodi High School students try and combat bullying

Lodi High School students have linked hearts and kind thoughts in a new school activity.

Links of Love is a student-initiated idea to indirectly combat bullying by accentuating the positive and appreciating kindness.

The links are slips of paper, color-coded by grade level, strung in rows down the length of a school hallway. Each slip has appreciative words left anonymously for a student or teacher for their kind actions.

“Liezel gave me advice when I was upset.”

“Miguel. All my books fell in the hallway, and he was the only one to help.”

“Kelsey helped a friend through a hardship.”

“Elaika smiled at me when I was having a bad day.”

These are only a few of the positive words that can be read in the school hallway. Students and teachers can walk under these garlands and read the kind, uplifting thoughts all the way down the hallway.

Lauren Sciarra, an English teacher who helps supervise the Respect Crew student group, said there are more to hang, and a collage of links is planned for the wall at the end of the hallway.

The Respect Crew, formed as part of the anti-bullying initiative, is made up of 10 students, mostly freshmen and juniors. It was this group of students that came up with the Links of Love idea.

Along with Sciarra, Kristin Kelly, a special education teacher, also acts as supervisor to the group.

“When they (students) come up with the ideas, the positive message weighs more heavily,” said Sciarra. “It sounds cheesy when we do it but cool when it comes from the kids.”

Boxes have been set up around the school where students can write down their appreciative words and drop them off anonymously. The papers are color-coded: black for seniors, gray for juniors, blue for sophomores, orange for freshmen and red for faculty members.

The Respect Crew spends after school hours linking the pieces with string to hang in the hallway.

Although the core group has 10 students, a wider group of students sometimes volunteer to help.

Sciarra said, “I’ll (often) see five other kids that will say, ‘Can I come in and help?” ’

Jamie Ciofalo, supervisor of guidance, describes the Respect Crew as a grass-roots movement, a student-centered program with no budget or stipend.

“We never do anything that says anti-bullying,” Sciarra said. “We just try to recognize nice things that happen. We don’t want to give attention to the bullies but acknowledge the kind acts.”

A similar idea of expressing appreciation anonymously was done during Respect Week in October.

During that time, students purchased cards for friends and gave them anonymously. The cards gave students appreciation for one of the following positive characteristics: honesty, loyalty, trustworthiness, responsibility, caring, friendliness and helpfulness. Cards came with a sticker that the recipient could wear, giving them credit for this particular characteristic.

Sciarra said that most students received at least one card and that some students received several.



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