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Students: KHS must adjust its attitude

Members of the Student Involvement Committee include, from left: back row, Brianna Averett, Ammah Billington and Leann Weiss; front row, Lea Cenquigrana, Courtney Ogborn, Dakota Valandingham, Ashlie Norton and Purvi Patel. Not shown are Angelica Reyes, Selena Leon-Vega, Carissa Brantley and Megan Dropulic.

KINGMAN - When Kingman High School Principal Patrick Carey recently challenged the school's seniors to make their mark in life, 12 members of the class of about 400 students took him seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that soon after the senior sunrise gathering, they formed the Student Involvement Committee, a group of seniors dedicated to improving students' attitudes toward each other. Senior sunrise is an annual event in September where KHS staff met with students to watch the sun rise over the school's football field and offer words of encouragement and motivation.

"No one has really tried to change the school environment here," said senior Ashlie Norton. "A lot of students don't get along with each other and look down on those who aren't like them. Students are mean to each other just because it's fun to be that way. We want things to be different."

The group, which wears T-shirts that proclaim, "Stop judging - start hugging" on the front and "Make your mark 2K14" on the back, is organizing its first event to get the message across to KHS students.

The group will address the freshman class of about 280 students Oct. 29 for a discussion about bullying and acceptance.

On Oct. 31, the class will break into groups to get to know each other better, discussing what they're proud of in their lives and reading positive comments about themselves.

The process will be repeated with each class, with about 300 sophomores and 400 juniors gathering in November and the senior class meeting in December. Bright posters announcing the event are hanging throughout the school campus.

Carey said he supports the group and the vision its members are trying to share with others.

"One of the messages that keeps resonating with me is that my job is to assist students as they find out who they really are instead of who others have told them they are," said Carey. "I want them to get to know each other. Every student on campus has something positive to offer and we aren't taking enough time to find out what it is."

Group members said they believe the exercises will help each class learn to get to know its members better instead of judging them without enough information.

Senior Leann Weiss said that while the event may not help the senior class much because it will graduate soon, the activities will benefit the students who will return next year.

"I'm hoping everyone realizes that other students are going through the same issues they are and they have more in common than they think," said Weiss. "I believe that after participating in these activities and learning about each other, the students will become a support system instead of being mean and judgmental."

Carey said he is proud of the students for creating the group and activities and taking a stand to change attitudes at the school. Senior Ammah Billington said she is hoping the message will inspire students and change at least one life for the better.

"It's really going to be up to the student to try to make these changes," said Billington. "We can give them all the tools they need to be better people, but we can't make them put those tools into practice. Even if they don't take the lesson to heart now, we're hoping they'll use them later."

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