Have you heard of ROY? Students at Blackfoot High School are working to spread the word about their anti-bullying campaign and hope that they can reach you.
“ROY is an anti-bullying campaign that stands for reach outside yourself,” ROY co-leader Boden VanOrden said.
For Blackfoot High School students like VanOrden, a junior, and senior Savanna Hall, bullying is an issue they’ve dealt with first hand.
“We’ve noticed a bullying problem in our school and so we wanted to fix it,” VanOrden, the other half of ROY leadership, explained. “So, last year, we kind of found a story and made this program fit with the story.”
The abbreviated story of Roy states that a bullied boy was offered an open seat on the bus by a schoolmate named Roy. The duo came across the story online and decided to make their own program with it.
Hall said while the campaign is anti-bullying focused, there is also a strong emphasis on kindness.
“You can tell someone to stop bullying but if they stop that, what promotes them to do more? What’s the challenge? And, so I think that’s why it’s promoting kindness even more,” she said.
When the effort was getting started in the spring, the group went around to all the classes, handing out bracelets and telling everyone the story of Roy, having them take a pledge to “become Roy.”
The group, which features many students, administrators and community members, has hung posters on nearly every door around the school, hosted assemblies and ‘Motivational Mondays’ where an inspiring quote is read during the morning announcements. Actions of the sort have school administrators, like Assistant Principal Joseph Abercrombie, noticing a difference.
“Yes, absolutely. It’s made my job easier,” he said, noting a decrease in students visiting the principal’s office.
Blackfoot High does a banner system based on student activity that impacts the length of their lunch period.
“We’ve had more long lunches this year, they’ve been on a green banner longer than they were at any point last year,” Abercrombie said.
Still, Hall says some have felt the program isn’t working or just believe it is too hard to “be like Roy.” In those cases, she tells students that even doing little things will make an impact.
At the end of the day, Hall said it’s up to each student.
“You get to choose if you want to stop bullying or not. I can’t tell you you can’t,” Hall explained. “It’s up to you to choose.”
A feeling shared by VanOrden.
“It’s a change of mind, mainly,” he said. “It’s gonna have to be a self-choice, if you will.”
The group’s message has already made its way through Blackfoot and Hall says she hopes they can reach even further.
“Contact Blackfoot High School if you would like ROY to be in your school and we would happily come and do an assembly to give ROY to that school.”
The group added that they’d like to have ROY in all the local elementary schools and a great acceptance of their goal of kindness.