Be Nice. It’s that Simple.
Those are the words that started an anti-bullying campaign at Centennial High School, 10200 W. Centennial Parkway. In a school with approximately 3,200 students, bullying has been a major concern for one health education teacher.
It all began when Janet Roll surveyed her freshman students in September last year, asking them who had been a victim of bullying.
“After surveying my students, I determined that within the first four weeks of school, 32 percent had been a victim of bullying or harassment,” Roll said. “As a parent and an educator, that bothered me.”
Although Roll focuses a section of her class on bullying and harassment, she felt her students needed an additional reminder.
“I know that there is a ‘Be Kind’ program that is used by many elementary and middle schools,” Roll said. “However, I felt that the verbiage wasn’t effective at the high school level.”
She partnered with fellow teacher John Roberts and his video production class. Together, they began filming commercialsthat asked students what their take was on those who are purposely mean to other students.
“For something grassroots, kids have really started paying attention to the campaign,” Roberts said. “It’s raised awareness to bullying and different civil rights issues, like gay and lesbian rights.”
Students who were chosen to speak for the 15- to 20-second commercial are those who are seen as leaders at the school, according to Roll. Many of them are athletes, honor and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students and participants of student council.
The commercials are shown during the school’s morning announcements.
As part of her campaign, Roll also went out of her way to create and sell 100 black T-shirts with the logo in white. She said the T-shirts sold out in a few weeks and were exclusive to students.
Since students have started wearing their T-shirts, Phoebe Ozawa, 15, said she has seen the impact that the simple message has made.
“I’ve seen people stick up for others,” Ozawa said. “Students impact other students, and as a result, bullying has really gone down on campus.”
Roll said she sold T-shirts to students from all walks of life, including athletes, those with multiple piercings or colored hair and honor students.
Students agree that most of the bullying that happens on campus is verbal and usually occurs with large groups of students trying to impress their friends. Often, bullying is directed toward another student’s physical appearance.
Quinn Hill, 16, said he was bullied constantly when he was younger because of his height. After he was featured in a commercial, he said younger students came to him for advice on how to handle such situations.
Besides bullying, students added that there is a lot of sexual harassment that occurs on campus.
“Kids just don’t know what crosses the line,” Hill said.
Rachel Hollister, 17, was homeschooled before starting her junior year of high school. She said some students picked on her because she had to take lower-level courses.
“I heard that bullying happens in high school, but I didn’t think kids could be so mean,” Hollister said. “Some people actually go out of their way to make someone’s day suck.”
In order to keep the campaign going, Roll plans to sell more T-shirts with the same logo but with an added picture of a flower that a student drew for the redesign. She said she wants to buy fabric paint that students can use to paint each petal a different color.
“It’s simple, and it gets the message across,” Roll said.
Posters of the new design also fill campus walls throughout the high school, reminding students to be nice.
Although the campaign started in November, students say more of their peers respect one another.
“When I’m wearing my shirt, it just brings the concept to the front of people’s minds,” Hollister said. “They think before they talk.”
Contact North Las Vegas and Centennial View reporter Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686.