Maumelle Charter High School
900 Edgewood Drive
Maumelle, Arkansas 72113
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Let’s face it: our kids have a strange world with which to grapple. The internet enables them to find answers to anything within moments. For many, the concept - and reward - of patience hangs somewhere in a vague cloud, along with hammer pants, scrunchies and Y2K. When thirty-five-year-olds speak with today’s adolescents, it doesn’t take long before they end up sounding like eighty-year-olds. The experiential gap caused by the last twenty years’ increases in technology has irrevocably contributed to an age-old generational schism. There exists little to no precedent for dealing with some Millennial and Post-millennial concerns.
Despite that schism, however, today’s youth still share common successes and challenges with their previous generations, particularly in the areas of relationships and emotional health. Each student carries a longing, however quiet, to make and to be a friend. This heart-cry unites every person, but often remains largely undisclosed in the halls of a school building.
Unique to these newest generations, the immediacy and prevalence of communication over the internet pose their own threat to impressionable youth in the form of cyberbullying. Nowadays, the antagonism that so many students face from their peers in school does not end at the last bell, as it usually did for our generation and those before us. The social media landscape presents a wide variety of pitfalls and traps for the unwary or ostracized student, and the internet is always open. As the kids would say, “Haters gonna hate.”
But we can’t take this lightly, since ridicule hurts. Imagine reliving your high school experience (yikes!), but with the added pressure of knowing that anyone might remember something embarrassing about you (or even simply make it up) and post it online for all - all - of your peers to witness. Who is going to defend you? How are you supposed to deny a falsehood and get somebody to believe you?
Worse yet, imagine a scenario in which another student has created a fake Instagram account online for the express purpose of putting you down, and nobody tells you about it. You go on about your life happily, not knowing that most of the student body has been either making or reading disparaging comments about you for weeks. Finally, you receive a message from a friend telling you that she got an invite to follow this account and had to share it with you. You log on to find that you’ve been the butt of countless jokes and “slams” from people with whom you interact everyday. People you thought were friends suddenly become something much different, and your sense of self-worth - fragile already because of your stage of life - plummets to a low you can hardly describe.
Such experiences as these happen everyday, and girls have felt the brunt of the damage. The stereotypical image of the “mean girl” has never been a truer representation of the female bully than it is today, and she has more weapons than ever. One of the most opportune traits of cyberbullying for girls, anonymity affords the bully free reign and no risk of discovery. Girls across the country, regardless of social status, have suffered a new wave of insult that feeds on insecurities and sustains skewed perceptions of their beauty and value.
But they have advocates.
Maumelle Charter High School already seeks innovation and relevance in its instruction, and its counseling staff mirror a district-wide sentiment when they express that its students deserve more than that. Ashley Redic, counselor to grades 9-12 at Maumelle Charter, has already begun a girls’ club for freshmen that empowers young ladies to believe in themselves and their goals. Kristi Tucker, counselor to grades 6-8, has decided to spearhead a 2-hour Kind Campaign Assembly for all grades set for Wednesday, the 21st of this month. Ms. Tucker has chosen to implement this internationally recognized program as a means, not an end. Paraphrasing Zig Ziglar during an interview, she said, “‘Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing, and that’s why you have to do them everyday.’ So, this has to be part of something that is a part of the [school’s] culture.”
What’s the vision? Both counselors, along with the administration, faculty and staff, hope to foster an environment where students edify one another and “catch one another in the act of kindness.” The Kind Campaign Assembly will help set the stage for healing in these young ladies’ lives, and prompt the local community to recognize what so often goes unsaid: that adolescent girls live in a kind of cloak-and-dagger world of gossip and backstabbing, alliances and betrayals, perpetuated by silence - and every girl feels secretly that she’s the only one suffering, the only one hurting this deeply. But that world can be changed by summoning the courage to speak up, and with coaching from loving role models.
“Local business representatives are invited to come and support our efforts to change our school’s culture and model this kind of thing for the surrounding area,” Tucker says. “We don’t want this to fizzle out but to become a movement that we make our own in this community.”
Need more information or would like to attend and represent your business? Call 851-3333 and ask for Kristi Tucker.
Geoffrey C. Gross is a teacher at Maumelle Charter