ARACDIA, Ind. (WTHR) — Bullying is often a topic of conversation when it comes to schools, but it is certainly not the only narrative. There is also a growing movement of kindness sweeping through hallways and classrooms all around central Indiana. One example is Hamilton Heights High School, where kindness is alive and well through A.S.K. or the Active Student Kindness Club. Eyewitness News anchor Anne Marie Tiernon recently sat down with a group of students in that club who say drama is out and inclusion is in.
It’s a conversation all the teens say is needed right now. “You just don't ever really know what people are going through,” said junior Sydney Hillard. “I feel things have been happening where it's becoming more of a realization, so I feel like everyone just needs to be there for each other,” Hillard added.
“We have signs that say be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle and I think that's really true because you never know what's going on behind the scenes in someone's life,” said sophomore Jenn Houser. “So, a kind hello or a kind smile can really make the difference.”
Assistant principal Whitney Gray knows one person can make a difference. “It doesn't have to be any elaborate event…just the small things that add up that can really change people's day.”
Gray says another big thing she sees is the social media component. “People think because they are not saying it to someone's face that, you know, they can type something and it doesn't matter, they can send a text message or post something on Snapchat and it just disappears, and it doesn't. People are really affected by that,” said Gray. “And that's one of the biggest things we notice is people being unkind to each other when they are not face-to-face.”
Senior Lindsey Hillard agrees. “I feel like there's a lot of judgment on social media and comparison. I feel like there's so many people that are trying to be like everybody else on social media which causes a lot of problems, I think.”
“And people go after each other, but they never mention names, so everyone is like who are they pointing this at?” added junior Maria Mitchell. “You could think it's yourself when it's not and so there's always those questions of like I don't know who this is at.”
The lunch period can be a welcome break from classes and offer students a chance to socialize during the day. But it can also be a place where students really feel the impact of isolation or bullying. The students we talked to say it’s all about routine; everyone sits at the same table, in the same place every single day. For others, lunchtime is spent alone sitting in a hallway.
Junior Miranda Hirl admits, that can be a hard trend to break. “It's awkward to ask someone ‘hey can I sit at your table’ because you just don't know what they're going to say. It shouldn't be awkward to ask to sit at a lunch table, but it is.”
The students say one of the goals of the club is to seize the awkward and find ways to be kind to everyone, no matter what. The club also has signs up around the school and often hands out lemonade at lunch to help break the ice and bring students together.
To watch the full conversation click on the video below: