Tue09162014

Schools

St. Francis students unite against bullying with green laces


Photo By: Courtesy of St. Francis High School
Photo Courtesy Of St. Francis High School

St. Francis High School senior Brianna Miller uses skits and discussions to encourage freshmen to join the Lace Up Stand Up campaign.

St. Francis High School students adorned their backpacks and wrists with neon green laces this year, embracing a novel way to unite against bullying.

Seniors spoke to freshman religion classes in May, introducing the message “Lace Up Stand Up.” Lace Up Stand Up is an organization aimed at empowering students to combat bullying. The group uses the green laces to promote awareness and to let others know that whoever is wearing them will stand up for bullied victims. Leaders teach students techniques they can use if they ever witness others being bullied.

“We want you to be that person who does the right thing,” said senior Brianna Miller to a class of freshmen.

St. Francis alumni Kyle Miller and Chris Barrett, who graduated in 2010, founded Lace Up Stand Up. Now students at the University of San Diego, Miller and Barrett wanted to teach bystanders what to say and how to say it when witnessing someone being bullied.

After spending several months fine-tuning the curriculum, Miller and Barrett introduced their program to several schools and groups in San Diego. The number keeps growing as they recruit ambassadors to lead workshops for youth organizations and schools, including St. Francis.

St. Francis Dean of Students Margaret Miller praised Lace Up Stand Up as a valuable program for students because it reinforces the school community’s values and trains older students to help younger ones deal stand up to peer pressure.

“We want our school to be an environment where all students can feel comfortable and thrive,” she said. “This program is special because not only was it started by two of our alums, it gives our students tools they can use to show leadership among their peers.”

Brianna Miller, Kyle’s younger sister and one of 20 Lace Up Stand Up high school ambassadors, said everyone can identify with bullying – as a victim, bully or witness. Brianna said she was teased when she was younger, so she is determined to teach others how to stand up for themselves.

Brianna and other ambassadors use skits and discussions to draw freshmen in and encourage them to join Lace Up Stand Up.

She said she’s optimistic that just as she and other seniors will take the Lace Up Stand Up message to their new college campuses next year, the presence of the neon green laces will continue to grow at St. Francis.

“We’re building leaders because we want the younger students to take over,” she said. “We want them to be able to use these skills all four years of high school.”

For more information, visit www.laceupstandup.com.

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