Every year the freshmen and sophomores have a bit of growing to do, but this has been especially true during the pandemic. Not knowing how to act appropriately in high school, they often overcompensate by acting stand-offish and judgmental of others.
As a staff, we spent a lot of time discussing both how to train the underclassmen and prevent bullying from increasing. We wanted to bring the students together for good, so we focused on creating a bullying awareness month! We knew about dude. be nice. from a student council event and decided that bringing that initiative to campus would be the perfect anti-bullying approach.
One of the most important decisions we made early on was for this to be a school-wide initiative that didn’t belong to one group of kids but to everyone! With that in mind, here are four ways we prepared for our dude. be nice. week.
4 ways to prepare for your bully-prevention initiative with dude. be nice.
1. Get the students on board
To maximize the experience, we worked hard to make sure all the ideas for bullying awareness month were student-led. We had SO many kids from various groups on campus—from the horticulture class to art honor society— at first it was hard to keep them all engaged in the planning and execution of ideas. We solved that by creating committees so that we could break them into smaller groups.
We created the following committees: Meeting Planning, dude.be nice. Week Planning, Fundraising, Community Service, Social Media, Intentional Acts of Kindness, Recognition, Marketing, and Social Events.
2. Rally support from administration and local leaders on the bully prevention strategy
With the motivated students on board, together we presented the ideas to the administration who ended up being all in! We really communicated that this wasn’t just a Thursday morning homeroom club but a student-led, school wide initiative.
From there we went to local businesses to get donations and funding. This way, it wasn’t just a school-wide initiative, but a city one as well! Our local businesses were happy to be a part of such a good cause.
3. Create the anti-bullying activities—together!
Next we got to work outlining our activities during bully awareness month (October), leading up to our big dude. be nice. week!
Activity #1: Honoring a beloved custodian
To celebrate the retirement of a custodian who had served our community for 20 years, we pulled out all the stops. The kids made a huge card, we got balloons, and then we invited the school out to our courtyard one morning. They lined both sides of the courtyard, and our principal escorted him through the crowd of kids to the end where some DBN kids gave him the balloons, cards, and said some kind words. Check out our video here!
Activity #2: Wonderful Wednesday of Positivity
To kick off the day, we did a bus driver drive thru breakfast and recognition, playing music and greeting each bus driver with a small bouquet of flowers, a breakfast sandwich, and juice donated by Chick-fil-a.
We didn’t stop there!
To make sure all students were a part of the positivity day, we handed out post-it-notes and index cards to each homeroom so every student could participate. They wrote positive comments on index cards and then used the post it notes to leave positive notes all over campus.
Activity #3: Give the custodians a break!
We partnered with our ESL students (some of whom are already in DBN) and came to school on a Saturday morning and cleaned the main building of our school. We mopped, dusted, and deep cleaned stairways, hallways and classrooms of a four-story building.
We didn’t do it because the custodians haven’t been doing a good job, but because we wanted to give our short-staffed group of custodians a break. They were able to go home early that Friday and not have to work on Saturday!
4. Execute dude. be nice. week!
For the 4th activity in our bully awareness month, we had our flagship dude. be nice. WEEK! As a team, we worked hard to create intentional experiences that would excite and inspire students to share in this initiative.
Here is how we organized our DBN week:
Monday: Dude. Shine on!
For this Metallic Monday, kids wore shiny clothes and we handed out shiny star stickers (purchased from Amazon) and spread the message of letting your light shine.
Tuesday: Dude. Take Care of YOU.
Kids wore pajamas and were encouraged to take care of themselves; we passed out smiley face stickers to each individual student.
Wednesday: Dude. You’re AWESOME!
It was another Wonderful Wednesday of Positivity where we had about 1200 clothespins that kids had written positive messages on. A few months later, you can still see a lot of kids that have positive message clothespins pinned to their backpacks. That’s a win! After school, we brought the DBN spirit to our city! We went up to our old town main street and handed out flowers. The recipients were thrown off, wondering if we were asking for donations. We got to say, “Nope, these are just for YOU being YOU and YOU are awesome.”
Thursday: Dude. Thank a Teacher
For teacher appreciation day, kids wrote thank you notes to teachers of their choosing (you can get packs of thank you notes at the dollar store!). We then had our horticulture class make bud vases for all of our teachers. The kids hand-delivered the vases to each of the teachers and shared how much they appreciate them.
Friday: Dude. Be Nice.
This was our final day which we chose to be super colorful. Everyone wore tie-dye and at the end of the day we had a flash mob to a song called “Feel the Magic in the Air.” We threw color powder up in the air! It was a fun way to end the week.
Yes, it was a lot of work.
But if you’re a teacher or administrator looking to prepare for bully prevention month that is so much more than a policy in your handbook, I’m here to say the dude. be nice. framework WORKS!
- Our local community knows about the initiative and they continue donating items for our efforts.
- The phrase, “Dude. Be nice!” is heard all over campus.
- Administrators share how there is a consistent and loyal attitude of positivity.
- When a group of people need help of any kind, our school turns to dude. be nice. kids. Whether it is carrying a backpack for someone who is injured, welcoming new students to our school, or recognizing bus drivers and guidance counselors, dude. be nice. kids are looking to help and are ready to encourage.
The key to a school-wide bullying prevention approach is to establish anti-bullying not as a club or a policy but as an INITIATIVE. It is an overarching effort where all of our students are involved. They’re valued for their ideas and leadership.
Because of this approach, our dude. be nice. initiative is bigger than a week, bigger than a month—it’s embedded into our school culture. A culture where every student and staff member is valued. And we think that’s a pretty great anti-bullying policy.
To learn more about Fauquier High School and their impact, check out their local newspaper’s feature!