Edison Intermediate School in Westfield has a group of 8th graders who have teamed up with the school's counselors to encourage the importance of building empathy and compassion. The group calls themselves Teens Learning Respect ‘N Compassion or TLRNC. The teens decided to encourage the school to participate in the national movement of No Name Calling Week, designated for January 21 – 25 this year.
The TLRNC members visited classrooms to introduce the concept, to facilitate discussions, and also to lead the school in a No Name Calling pledge. Throughout the school, students found innovative ways to become involved. Some designed T-shirts in art class to honor “no name calling.” The TLRNC group was responsible for selecting the winning T-shirt design. Physical Education teachers incorporated a “no name calling” lesson into their classes.
No Name Calling Week was inspired by the young adult novel entitled The Misfits by James Howe. The book tells the story of a group of friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their height, weight, intelligence, sexual orientation and gender expression. Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the “Gang of Five” (as they are known) creates a new political party during student council elections and runs on a platform aimed at wiping out name calling of all kinds. They win the support of the school’s principal for their cause and their idea for a No Name Calling Day at school.
At Edison Intermediate School in Westfield, No Name Calling Week occurred January 21-25 but is being extended so that TLRNC members can work with the entire student body on the impact of verbal bullying and strategies for coping with and putting an end to name calling.
“We hope that No Name Calling Week will help all students consider the weight of the words they use, and make school a safer, healthier place for all,” stated Kerri Webster, who along with Kim Lisnock and Lori DeMuro, are counselors at Edison Intermediate School.
Earlier this year, the TLRNC group supported “The Little Shoebox Project” which gave victims of Superstorm Sandy and others in need throughout NJ shoeboxes filled with treats, presents and a note to lift their spirits. All shoeboxes were given to families living in shelters after Superstorm Sandy. As additional shoeboxes were donated, they were given to other families in need throughout the state of New Jersey in time for the holidays.