We unite to stamp out bullying

Cori Pegau is a student at Cordova High School and student representative on the Cordova City Council.

Bullying is an issue all schools face and all schools must attend to. On Oct. 24th and Oct. 31st, Cordova did just that.

Cordova began to celebrate PACER’s Unity Day in 2015, with the work of the (then new) teacher Brian Clark and student council. Student council partnered with Believe It Or Not I Care (BIONIC) to hold what may have been the biggest assembly Cordova High has ever had. Orange, the color symbolizing Unity Day, filled the school in the form of shirts, jackets, and hats. At the assembly held honoring that day, some were moved to tears. Each student signed a pledge against bullying and wrote their name on slips of paper that were linked together to form a chain that spanned the entire school.

This year’s student council was given the daunting job of doing it one better. As you can imagine, there’s very few things more noticeable than a chain that covers the school, and none of us were entirely sure how to go about it. Ideas were tossed out. Ideas were vetoed. Other ideas were tossed out, more cautiously this time. Ideas were, in response, more cautiously vetoed, or determined to be impossible to accomplish within the two months we had to plan. We couldn’t help but wonder if last year’s student council had, perhaps, appealed to some force we had no way of tapping into.

Slowly but surely, though, the assembly began to come together. BIONIC and Cordova Family Resource Center (CFRC) bought orange dog tags to pass out with each pledge. The school counselor gave us an essay written by a former student last year about bullying to read (with her permission). Speeches began to come together. Things were starting to look possible. Then came the last week. The week went by in a rush, writing speeches, editing speeches, finding videos, sending emails, steeling ourselves, trying to figure out what order things should be in, cursing our previous procrastination and the spirits of inspiration that had abandoned us when they were needed most, and collecting pledges from members of the community.

The first assembly was the high school’s. Students filed in, wearing orange or the closest color to orange they could find (coral was popular that day) and glancing at the projector with mixed suspicion and curiosity. There was no chain; that was clear. There was a table covered in dog tags and two t-shirt-shaped cardboard cutouts bordered with orange tape, but nothing with the presence of last year’s assembly.

The presentation began with a short introduction, followed by a video of bullying statistics. Obviously this wasn’t exciting enough for them. The first speaker took the floor. Students began to listen as the speech followed them through how they may have been bullies, and how there was always hope in the world. By the time the next video began, the students were listening in earnest. Samantha Vargas read out the essay to applause. The assembly ended on how you could make change and help end bullying.  The dog tags given out as evidence of the campaign are still worn now, in November.


The elementary school assembly was difficult for a different set of reasons. We weren’t entirely certain how to appeal equally to kindergarteners and sixth graders. Of our group, the only one who really knew how to speak to kids was Samantha. Two of our three videos were vetoed for being either long or requiring too much reading for the youngest to understand. (I demand early literacy programs to make my own life slightly easier).

However, the students sat in rapt attention, listening attentively throughout. They asked questions, thought out their answers when we asked our own questions, and were entirely fine with mixing themselves up for the sake of an activity, something high schoolers would never do. They seemed to understand the struggles of the girl in the video and our explanations on how to help defeat bullying.

It’s hard to tell how much we’ve affected a community, especially in such a short amount of time. We can’t say all the students took it seriously, but many did. If even one student took the message to heart and works to stop bullying, I believe our campaign was a success.