Woodland Elementary students pose for a photo together on Unity Day.

The halls of schools across District 196 turned bright orange this October in recognition of the nationwide Unity Day initiative. From elementary to high school, our students and staff embraced the message behind PACER’s “where and share orange” to end bullying.

“Our schools are intentional about building quality relationships with students, and the Unity Day philosophy isn’t just a one-day event in the district,” said Mary Thompson, District 196 school safety and climate coordinator, “it’s also embedded into the everyday actions of our schools. Unity Day is a great way reminder that we must always care about each other and look out for one another.”

The color orange draws attention, and when worn in a large group, provides a powerful visual and collective message that kindness matters. At Woodland Elementary in Eagan, students all donned Woodland Upstander shirts and held a morning assembly to reaffirm their commitment to stamping out bullying. At the direction of music specialist Denise Nelson, the Woodland Da Capo choir sang “You Will Be Found.” At Highland Elementary in Apple Valley, Principal Chad Ryburn’s students learned the importance of walking in another’s shoes. Students wrote on footprint cutouts steps they can take to end bullying.

“I agree with the objective in helping individual students take small steps will help unite all students along the path for kindness, acceptance and inclusion,” Ryburn said.

Shannon Park Elementary students “grew” a kindness tree, Greenleaf and Oak Ridge decked out their schools in orange, Red Pine students formed a unity circle, and over at Rosemount middle and high schools, they recommitted to the “Irish Way” of tolerance and inclusion. Middle schoolers donned bright orange shirts with the words stand up, speak out and be brave, which were designed by a Rosemount sixth-graders. And at the high school, students used one of their class periods to talk in-depth about empathy.

See more photos from schools around District 196.

Unity Day 2018

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