'Take a stand' against bullying, kids proclaim with t-shirt

'Take a stand' against bullying, kids proclaim with t-shirt »Play Video
Karen Fox, principal of Mill Plain Elementary in Vancouver, holds up a t-shirt designed by a student. The shirts are part of the school's anti-bullying campaign.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – For a t-shirt, there's a lot of meaning sewn into its fabric.

"Last spring, we started an anti-bullying campaign," said Karen Fox, the principal of Mill Plain Elementary School as she held up one of the t-shirts imprinted with a student's design and the message, "Take a stand, Mill Plain."

Teachers and staff at the school came up with the unique way to get students involved in the discussion of bullying.

"This is just sort of a way for us to all anchor on what our mission is. We want everyone to come to school and feel good," Fox said.

To third-grader Emily Paxman, it's a victory because her drawing was chosen out of those from all other students to be on the t-shirt's front.

"When we looked at the design that Emily came up with, it just really captured the message we're trying to convey to the students," said Fox.

And to the school as a whole, it's a uniting force, worn by every student at an assembly as the goal was reiterated "to create the kind of school that we all see in the pictures on our shirts," said Fox.

Teachers and staff corralled 500 students who were wearing the shirt onto the school's playground on Valentine's Day, forming them into the shape of a heart to get the point across. 

"When we think about what it means to stand up, it's really them knowing what they can do and that they can shape what their school is," Fox said.

School leaders said pulling off Thursday's assembly was a bit of a challenge. They came up with the idea months ago never expecting they'd have to include students from Crestline Elementary who were forced out of their school because of a fire.

But the company that made the shirts worked overtime so every child would get one.