Cicely Tyson School initiates 2019 anti-bullying campaign 

Photo by EmilyAnn Jackman
Students and faculty stand together during the anti-bullying pep rally at Cicely L. Tyson Elementary in East Orange.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — On Monday, Oct. 7, Cicely L. Tyson Elementary School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange kicked off its anti-bullying campaign during the “Week of Respect” with a pep rally about HIBs and WIGs, which refer to harassment, intimidation and bullying and wildly important goals, respectively.

Principal Passion Moss-Hasan shared information about what the elementary school is striving to achieve and why it chose to take on the relevant topic

“This rally was actually about HIBs and WIGs,” Moss-Hasan told the Record-Transcript after the event. “So, as we celebrate the ‘Week of Respect’ this week, we’re really trying to get our student leaders to place emphasis on being proactive and engaging in activities that will keep bullying away from our school and will also help them to acknowledge when they’re seeing incidents that involve bullying, so that they can correct behaviors or help some of their peers to correct behaviors as well.”

The school planned a week’s worth of schoolwide initiatives to recognize the “Week of Respect.” In addition to the pep rally, Monday, Oct. 7, was “Wear Blue: #BlueUp United Against Bullying.” Tuesday, Oct. 8, was scheduled as “Crazy Sock Day: Sock it to Bullying.” Wednesday, Oct. 9, was scheduled as “Wear your Boots: Stamp out Bullying.” Thursday, Oct. 10, was scheduled as “Rock your Shades: Throw Shade to Bullying.” And Friday, Oct. 11, was scheduled as “Jersey Day: Team up Against Bullying.”

This year, the anti-bullying pep rally, which took place in the school gym, featured signs created by students and staff, and everyone wore the color blue to symbolize standing together against bullying. Students appeared excited to stamp out bullying, and hoisted their anti-bullying signs high above their heads.

Moss-Hasan said she is proud of her school.

“I feel extremely excited and elated that our students are really buying into this whole concept of being a leader in the school and learning how to incorporate each and every activity that we do into the actual program and the process. I’m really excited about that,” she said at the event.

Fifth-grader Amberlae Wilson is one such student leader at the school.

Along with six other peers, Wilson played a big role in the pep rally. Together, the seven students performed an anti-bullying skit, called “Leader in Me,” hoping to make an impression on the younger students at the school.

“I feel good about today’s rally,” Wilson told the Record-Transcript at the conclusion of the event. “The purpose of this rally is for kids and students to feel energized and learn how to feel good about themselves. For kids to be a buddy, not a bully, because bullies are there to put you down all of the time and you have to stand up to bullies all of the time.”

When asked about what impact she wanted to have on others, Wilson said, “Happy. That’s how I wanted kids to feel. I wanted them to feel happy and excited when they were in the pep rally because they should want to stand up to bullies.”

Every year, Allen Ashby, the school’s anti-bullying specialist, leads the schoolwide initiative to get student leaders excited about the campaign, and educates them on bullying prevention and intervention in order to equip students with coping skills that will help them solve conflicts.

Ashby hosted the pep rally with a goal of helping the student body and faculty realize bullying needs to be taken seriously

“My role, simply, was to get everyone together and start a schoolwide initiative, recognizing and honoring our ‘Week of Respect’ campaign toward anti-bullying and getting everyone excited about our initiative moving forward this week,” Ashby said at the end of the event.

Ashby, who is also a school counselor, thought the event went very well.

“I thought it was spectacular,” he said. “Everyone chipped in. … Everyone contributed. I thought the event was truly successful. I’m looking to doing bigger and better things as we continue this week.”

With the full support of school administration — Moss-Hasan and Assistant Principal Makeba McCray and Anti-Bullying Task Force members Guerdy Baguidy, Sheronda Baker and Simplice Avit — collaboration takes place to make sure the anti-bullying events are both exciting and educational for students.

McCray, who said she takes the campaign seriously, told the Record-Transcript after the event, “I thought the pep rally was great. It’s just a great opportunity to kick off the no bullying campaign. … We have a no-tolerance policy regarding bullying and it’s just a great thing to get the kids excited and actually know what they’re excited for and that is to be kind people and to be good citizens.”

Baguidy, the school’s social worker, said at the event, “I think it went wonderful. The kids were so excited. They’ve planned all week for it. We’ve been talking to them about anti-bullying and the importance of fighting back (against) bullies and the fact that we all need to keep each other safe.”

Avit, a teacher and technology coordinator at the school, said she’s excited for what’s to come.

“I thought this event was so wonderful,” Avit told the Record-Transcript at the event. “I can’t wait for next month. This event happens every month, every first Monday of the month, and I’m ready. I’m pumped up for next month.”