Students in Aurora are working to combat the issue of bullying, which has quickly become a rising social issue in schools across the nation.
Last week, students at Rangeview High School held an assembly to celebrate the school's participation in the "No Place for Hate" campaign, an anti-bullying program sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. It's the fourth consecutive year that students at Rangeview have earned a designation in the program.
Students at the hour-long assembly read poetry, performed rap music and gave speeches stressing tolerance, respect and understanding for different cultures, among other things. The ceremony was followed by a lesson plan where students participated in a diversity lesson led by some of the teachers at the school.
A similar ceremony was held at another school in the Aurora Public Schools district at Columbia Middle School, which also recently formed a No Place for Hate coalition.
"Our excitement is that we really have, for the past two years, used it to recognize our kids," said Steve Hamilton, principal of Columbia Middle School. "We feel it's an opportunity to recognize student leadership in the area of equity."
Bullying in schools has generated an increasing amount of publicity and attention in recent months, in part, due to the release of a new documentary called "Bully." The movie, which follows the lives of five different children who have suffered the effects of bullying, has helped heighten awareness of the issue and sparked debate nationwide over what can be done to stop it in schools.
The No Place for Hate program has been funded with help from businesses in the community, including Greenberg Traurig, a Denver-based law firm. The company donated a $10,000 grant from its Great Minds Great Hearts Philanthropic Fund, said Sam Levy, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig and a regional board member with the Anti-Defamation League.
"The objective of the grant is all the same, to prevent bullying in schools," Levy said. "You only have to pick up a newspaper or watch television to see the very tragic consequences of bullying."
In all, about a dozen APS schools are now participating in the The No Place for Hate program. About 41,000 students throughout the state are currently enrolled in the initiative.
The issue is also being targeted in the Cherry Creek School District. Though the district has had anti-bullying policies in place since the '90s, officials are busy updating those efforts in what's being called Bullying 2.0, said Marla Bonds, bullying prevention coordinator for the Cherry Creek School District.
"This has been an area of focus in our district for a long time now," Bonds said. "We're already doing a lot with bully prevention, but we felt it was time to update and intensify our efforts."