Unity Day at EHS

Pirateer Staff, Pirateer Staff

Wednesday, October 20 is Unity Day across the country. It is an entire day set aside to bring light and start conversations around bullying. Students and staff are asked to wear orange to show unity for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion and to send a visible message that no child should ever experience bullying. 

The group behind Unity Day was founded in 2006. PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center actively leads social change to prevent childhood bullying, so that all youth are safe and supported in their schools, communities, and online. It is based in Minnesota. The event has grown in strength and participation every year since that time. 


Ahead of the event, Englewood High School counselors put out a survey to students, asking them to rate their level of comfort and safety within the walls of the school. 219 students took part in the survey. 


Here is what they found. Verbal bullying and gossip is the most common form of bullying within our walls. Students were also concerned about cyberbullying and feeling left out. 

When a student experienced bullying, it was in the hallways and in the classrooms. One-third occurred outside on school grounds.

Overall, more than 60% of students are comfortable in the environment of school but nearly 50% also feel tense, uneasy, and have negative vibes at times. 


EHS Media set to find out how this survey translates to real-world stories, thoughts, and feelings around this topic. 


“Something that makes me feel safe is knowing that we have our security guards, always around to just be there whenever,” said sophomore Julia Moore.  


She says she can be herself around her friends and others.  If Moore saw someone getting bullied she said she is very comfortable finding someone to ask for help so they can deal with the issue, “I think it’s because we are such a small school. It’s easier to find out or like for the counselors to see who’s being bullied or the counselors have more opportunity to be like one on one with students who are being bullied.”


One student who is a person of color believes Covid brought additional fears, “I have always had weird thoughts that someone might attack me for being who I am. Since the COVID time, there were those who were just like, attacking Asian Americans for no reasons.” The student did not want to share their name. They continued by saying that school does feel safe most of the time, “Well, seeing my friends makes me feel comfortable right away.” 


Sophomore Dylan Wrathall feels comfortable in school, “Yeah, for the most part.” 


He says he owes that feeling to the adults in the building, “The fact that most of the teachers here are very open and you know just good people to come to for anything.” 


Sometimes students can feel the tension in a classroom between students due to the difference in their political opinions.


“I mean, it’s not necessarily like I’m not comfortable with my own self, but in English, we’re talking about some controversial subjects, which is not bad on its own. It’s just since we haven’t talked about any of those, it sparked some uncomfortableness,” said one sophomore. 


This student who didn’t want to be identified says sometimes students may make fun of their friends in a joking manner, “I mean it’s just really me and my friends making fun of each other. It’s all in good fun. It’s not like we’re actually bullying each other.” Counselors warn that if this is the normal back and forth between friends, it is important to check in with the friend on the receiving end of the jokes. It is possible to say something and cross the line.


Sophomore Gage Luna, believes that for the most part, EHS is a comfortable environment, “Well, certain kids scare me, you know how it goes around but I feel pretty safe.” Luna says his teachers, cell phone device, and friends make him feel safe, “It is just in general a very safe space for the students.” Though at times, Luna feels judged, “When people stare it just makes me anxious. It’s almost like a ‘mind your own business’ kind of thing, you know? It can be very frustrating.” He struggled most during middle school, He says, “it was not a fun time in my life. I was a heavy-weight person and my own friends would pick on me. They’d joke around about my weight and body shame me, they would think it’s a joke but it wasn’t. It really hurt me and my mental health but I felt like I had to laugh with them about it, not a good time.”

A female sophomore student, who didn’t want to be identified feels uncomfortable when boys look at her a certain way, “By the way guys, look at me. They look at me in a very inappropriate way.”


She says she has a history of being bullied that makes her worried and tense in certain situations, “In sixth grade. Every time I went to the bathroom. There was a girl, and she would always punch me. And there was another guy that would always look at me and he would always threaten me.”


She feels more aware of her surroundings because of the past, “You never know if there’s going to be danger around, so you have to watch out, and for others.” It changed her as a person, “It has made me change mentally, physically, and jumpy, you could say.”


Junior Holly Farris feels safe at EHS, “Yes, because I have good friends and everybody shows me respect around here.” She says it wasn’t always that way, “When I first got here. I didn’t know anybody but that’s about it.” 

A freshman who also did not want to be identified says a bad situation in her past made her weary and she felt unheard and helpless. She says she has been bullied at EHS, “Yes I have, some of the girls here have a beef with me over what I look like or who I talk to. One girl even pushed me around being mean.”


Freshman Eli Cortez says he feels welcome at EHS, ”I would say so,” and puts it upon himself to feel that way, “I make myself feel safe. I feel like I’m very well controlled and I know what I would do if a situation happened.” 


One sophomore who wanted to go into detail about their situation wanted to remain anonymous. ‘’Yes, I feel safe in the school because there are three security guards that can take care of everything or something goes wrong.’’


They have, however, felt uncomfortable on school grounds, ‘’Yeah, sometimes I feel uncomfortable in this school because sometimes I wonder why there are three security guards. It makes me wonder if something bad has happened before. But like I said before, the security guards are a reason I feel safe.’’


This student really likes the ‘vibe’ at the school, ‘’Sometimes it just feels relaxing and nice, but sometimes it can feel eerie and unsafe. But a reason that I do feel safe in this school would have to be my friends. My friends make me feel safe in this school because every time I come to school and feel a bit down my friends will be there to cheer me up. If anything bad happens I know that my friends will be there to comfort me.’’


This student says the real struggles in this area come from a cyberbullying incident, ‘’A long time ago while I was just on my phone I got a text message from someone. Then for some reason, they started calling me really offensive names. Like any other person would do, I just blocked them. But about a day later, somehow another text message came up, then again calling me names. No matter how many times I blocked a number, the person came back and kept calling me names. So eventually I got tired of it and just changed my phone number and changed all of my personal information so that the person would never find me again. I haven’t heard from them since. I never figured out who it was either but I am just glad I never saw them again.’’


EHS counselors want to remind all students that if they ever feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or feel they are the victim of any type of bullying to report it to a counselor, or any adult in the school immediately and get some help talking through the situation, “I think it’s good for students to connect with adults so that they know what happened, but then ultimately I feel like it’s best to bring the responsible party and the third party together to restore the harm that was done,” said school psychologist Patrick Maschka, “I really believe that it is not always easy for somebody who’s been a victim, but it can relieve a lot of anxiety, and it’s a fantastic learning experience for both people.”

Maschka says recovery from a bullying incident can take time, “I think this is going to apply to all students. Everyone needs to remember that everyone has feelings and everyone can get hurt. And if we would just learn to pause before we open our mouths or interact with each other, there’ll be a lot less hurt to begin with. So,  once that has happened, you know, looking out for your friends, looking out for kids around you. Maybe courage them to speak up for themselves.  It’s not easy to step up and say hey, you’re being a little rough, that’s pretty harmful, but it can make a huge difference.”

If you wear orange and want to participate in the national event, you can take a photo and tag social media posts to #UnityDay2021 and @PACER_NBPC.