Red Ribbon Week took on a different meaning at Morehead Middle School this week, with presentations focused on acceptance of all students and respect – the real R word.
During each lunch period, students ate cafeteria pizza while listening to videos and anti-bullying presentations about “Spreading the Word to End the Word” – a national campaign to eliminate the word ‘retarded’ from all vocabularies. Morehead kicked off the event with the National Anthem, sung by choir teacher Diana Carney who was accompanied in American Sign Language by the students from the Community Readiness Classroom.
“We’re showing our students how to advocate for themselves so that they can just use their voice and say ‘no, stop’ if they are being bullied,” said CRC teacher Lucy Bejarano. “The kids are just like everybody else. They may have a disability, but they don’t let that get in the way. They want to be treated just like everybody else.”
The presentation included a message from Allen Acuna, a young man with autism who is a recent graduate of EPCC. Fortunately, Acuna never experience bullying but he did see other students with disabilities being bullied as a high school student.
“Students with disabilities are just like everyone else. They like video games. They like pizza and hamburgers and they like to make friends with others,” he said, encouraging students to forge friendships with students of all abilities.
The lunch-time presentation ended with the cheerleaders dancing to Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T as the CRC students marched through the maze of cafeteria tables holding up signs representing each letter of the word in the song. Students then lined up to sign an anti-bullying pledge and promise to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”
“It is important that that the people that are around us make sure that nothing ever is harming us,” said Leah Hinojosa, an eighth grader enrolled in Academic Instruction Modified (AIM).
“We all want a very happy, happy life. We don’t want anything ever in our inner world to harm our hearts. And that is the most important thing ever.”