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Student Voice, Artistic Expression, and Art as Activism

At the start of the year, students from kindergarten through high school shared their experiences and called attention to bullying and name-calling through creative expressions. From poems to posters to promises, students across the country called on their communities to put kindness into action. Check out some of this year's submissions.

1.

Image of We All Go To The Same School poster
Freehold TWP High School, Freehold, NY

2.

Image of Our Words Can't Hurt Us poster
Freehold TWP High School, Freehold, NY

3.

Untitled 
School is very hard
but it could be much better
let's be bully free
School Without Name-Calling

Freehold TWP High School, Freehold, NY 

4.

 
School Without Name-Calling Haiku
No harsh words are said
And no student feels upset
All would be blissful 

Freehold TWP High School, Freehold, NY

5. 

Image of A School Without Name-Calling poster
Freehold TWP High School, Freehold, NY

6.  

Image of No-Naming Calling Week bulletin board.
Grace Church School, K-12, New York, NY

7. 

 Image of Love Everyone poster
Waupaca High School, Waupaca, WI

"I drew a picture of two interlocking hands. I am trying to raise awareness, but in a small town with little diversity it is difficult. Last year I tried to get people to do the Day of Silence, as well as No Name-Calling Week, but my efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful. I will continue working until my school finally reaches higher acceptance levels."

8. 

Image of Little Slips Drawing

Southeast High School, Wichita, KS

9.

Image of No-Naming Calling Week poster Wall

Image of poster "I Don't Say That's So Gay."Image of 'I Don't Say Rape' Poster

Image of I Don't Say Retarded poserImage of I Don't Say Triggered poster
Elkhorn High School, Elkhorn, NE

"No Name-Calling Week did not go quite as we had planned...it simply shows that there is always more work to be done. We hung the posters Thursday morning and within a half hour, several posters had been torn down and several more defaced with anti-Semitic and homophobic symbols or offensive epithets. Another poster, regarding sexual assault, was also desecrated. Those students were however reprimanded and, in looking through the security cameras to discover the vandalists, administration commented on the number of people who stopped in their tracks to read our posters. At the very least, we have created an active dialogue, made people think more about what they say and the implications it can have, and shown that there's still more work to be done in regards to our mission of driving out hate."

10. 

The Key To This World
Guard Well Within You
That Gold. That Secret
Keep it Safe. Keep it Secure
And don’t forget
That this Gold. This Secret
Is the Key
To Spreading Hope
Spreading Laughter
Spreading Joy
Spreading dreams
Spreading Love
And…
Most Importantly
Spreading Kindness
All Around the World

Mt. Olive Middle School, Budd Lake, NJ

11.  

The Bully
I ran through the hall,
To her locker.
I couldn't believe her.
I was so jealous.
I opened my locker.
But she slammed it shut.
Then it happened,
She said it.
"Petty Princess"
You think you're so great,
You use your family's money to your advantage
You only think of yourself.
It wasn't true,
but the more I thought about it,
The more I thought it was true.
I didn't care about anyone else
And I probably never would.
She looked mad,
Then upset.
I decided to stop,
besides I was just joking.
I ran
I ran home.
I opened the kitchen drawer,
And did the unthinkable

Mt. Olive Middle School, Budd Lake, NJ

12. 

Interpretation
Kindness can be mistaken for
Sarcasm
Knowledge can be mistaken for
Showing off
Friendliness can be mistaken for
Manipulation
Honesty can be mistaken for
Deceitfulness
Hatred cannot be mistaken for anything
Except Hatred

Mt. Olive Middle School, Budd Lake, NJ

13. 

I’m Sorry
I’m sorry
It wasn’t meant to be done,
Sorry is a word that should not be said freely to someone
It might be regretted,
You never know when the guilt may creep up on you to collect the price that must be
paid,
I’m sorry  
Hackettstown, NJ  

14.  

Bullying
Boys and girls teasing others
Unusual and unnecessary behaiors toward different people
Laughing at others faces
Lying and making rumors
Yelling for unknown reasons/ making a scene
Inappropriate acts embarrassing others
Nonsense unable to be tolerated
Gasps and cries being expressed by the victim
Mount Olive Middle School, Walsh, NJ

15.

You, Not Them
It's not about them
It's about you
The you that makes them smile
The you that's always to the rescue
Don't make them influence
You know you best
Don't have them run the show
When you're already set
When they try to look cool
They try to hurt you
But when they try to hurt you
Who is really the fool?
The dumpster may be far
But don't make that be it
Don't make them burden you
Just take a longshot, and that will be it.
Mount Olive Middle School, Walsh, NJ 

16. 

Was it Just a Joke?
The words we say
Won't fly away
But will hurt
We may not be alert
But inside
Victims cried
You may think it's funny
But tears are runny
Was it just a joke
Because you broke
Someone's heart
Because you weren't smart
Mount Olive Middle School, Walsh, NJ 

17. 

Photo of student Will Frederick
Madison High School, Vienna, VA

"With the use of headphones replacing the tape boxers normally use to protect themselves, it shows how technology can empower people to spread kindness and empower others. Those who I presented my Photo Diary thought that the photo was very thought-provoking and the photo gave the topic a very literal perspective."

18.

Image of Sarah L and Pleshette L.
SS Seward Institute, Florida, NY

"These students went to a number of different classrooms in the middle school and high school and took pictures of what kindness and "No Name-Calling Week" means to them."

19.

Image of Desaree Vaughn
Inst Of Tech Medford Camp High School, Medford, NJ 

"Our submission is a spoken word performance dedicated to Kirk Andrew Murphy (a person whose life was cut short due to conversion therapy). We performed it in front of our entire school. We made students and teachers aware of some of the current issues LGBTQIA+ youth face every day."

20.

 Image of No-Name Calling Week Posters 
Washington, DC

"Students were encouraged to submit a poster spreading kindness for the chance to win cupcakes and a dodge-ball party with their friends in the gym. The GSA students then voted on their favorite entry at one of their meetings.The contest provided a conversation starter for No Name Calling week in classrooms and also among students in the halls. The fliers advertising the poster contest around school actually raised awareness towards the GSA sparking a lot of questions, especially from 5th and 6th graders as to what the club is. The club also had several first time attendees at the meeting following the poster contest. The posters themselves are now sparking conversations from students looking at them on display in the hallways now. Additionally, we announced the event and our winner in our weekly school newsletter, spreading awareness of No Name Calling week home to parents."

Looking for ways to spread kindness in your school?