MURRAY — There were more young faces than usual at Murray’s City Hall Monday morning, as students from both the Calloway County and Murray Independent school districts gathered to witness a proclamation being signed by City of Murray Mayor Bob Rogers and Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes.
October is Bullying Prevention Month, and the Kentucky Center for School Safety has announced this week as Kentucky Safe Schools Week. Karen McCuiston, resource center director for the Kentucky Center for School Safety at Murray State University, was present Monday morning to talk with kids about the importance of the week, and the need for kindness to permeate throughout the school systems year-round.
“Every third week of October is Safe Schools Week in the state of Kentucky, and we are so excited about it,” McCuiston said. “We build up for this from the time school starts until now, because we are excited about this week. But do we try to be safe at school just in October, or just the third week of October? We should try to be safe all the time.
“And being safe could mean not bullying someone, it may be being kind to somebody, it may be thinking about how somebody may be feeling that day.”
McCuiston was talking to kids dressed up as the character Jessie from the popular animated “Toy Story” movies. She was donning this character as a means to make students realize that every school has its own cast of characters.
“Every school has its own cast of characters weaving the fabric of its own Safety Story,” she said. “Our schools are composed of students/staff who are a host of likely characters with a variety of interests and talents.”
The theme for this year is “Our Safety Story” and the Kentucky Center for School Safety stands on the belief that everybody should enjoy school equally and be treated with respect. Community members, educators, students and parents are encouraged to get involved during Kentucky Safe Schools Week as well.
“I wanted everybody to know that we are all different characters,” she said. “We are all different people, and no one person is alike. And that is a wonderful thing.”
One thing students will do is sign the Our Safety Story Pledge, which has students pledge to do the following this week and throughout the year:
• Strong enough to show empathy for others who need help at school
• Awesome, as I strive to use tolerance to create unity at school
• Friendly, showing kindness to others of all ages
• Encouraging, promoting a feeling of community and friendship throughout my school
McCuiston asked students for a variety of examples of how to be kind in school, with answers ranging from simply smiling at another student, helping them pick up something they’ve dropped or spending time with a student who is typically alone at lunch. Kind words, she said, could go a long way to helping someone feel appreciated and welcome at school.
“A lot of times we don’t tell other people how we feel about them until it is a time they are already feeling bad,” she said. “So wouldn’t it be nice if we took the time to be kind and think about how other people are feeling?”
For more information on the week, visit kysafeschools.org/sswpledge.