Simple campaign means so much to students

Cat Cavazos, Co-editor

“I am sassy.” “I am determined.” “I am smart.”

“I am not retarded.”

These are the signs that the Interpersonal Relations students hold up in their new promotional video about a campaign that has spread across the nation. Their goal is simple: “Spread the word to end the word.”

Olathe South is just one of many schools promoting this message to end the use of the word “retard,” and the students are working hard to promote their important cause throughout the student body. A banner filled with signatures pledging to “End It” hangs in the commons, blue bracelets with the slogan were passed out during lunchtime, and a video was made that was featured on Channel 5 News.

Catherine Wormus, SPED teacher, said all of the Olathe schools were asked to participate in December, and each school is running the program their own way. South chose to celebrate throughout the first week of March, which also happens to be Autism Awareness Week. Marketa Clanton, Clayton Renner and Jordan Megles, seniors, were all chosen to be on the leadership team and be the building representatives.

Raising awareness has meant a lot to the kids who are in the Interpersonal Relations classes. Emma Lengquist, junior, said that she “has been called retarded before” and that it hurts her.

“If I hear someone else saying it, I tell them that it isn’t nice. I wish it would go away,” she said.

And not only has it made a difference in the kids’ lives; it has also helped the students who mentor them.

Jordan Megles, senior, said that this campaign holds a special place in her heart because she comes from a family who focuses on helping kids with special needs. “My brother has developmental disabilities and my mom is a para. [Calling somebody that name] is not funny, and it’s not a joke anymore,” she said.

Besides this campaign, the school helps children with special needs all year round, pairing peer mentors with students in the Interpersonal Relations class during fourth hour. Megles, Lengquist, Clanton and Renner are all members of this class.

Wormus said that she hopes that students will realize that words do hurt and that people will start to think hard before they speak.

“Sometimes, [kids] think they’re teasing, or they don’t think lower-functioning kids understand what they are saying,” she said, but they do. “Kids have feelings, and they want to be treated normal, like everyone else.”

To support the cause, all a student has to do is to stop bullying when they see it and to implement the words that Phil Clark, principal, teaches each Freshman Class: “Ouch, don’t go there.”

A few simple steps can make all of the difference in the world to a student who needs a friend because for every student that chooses to be mean, 10 others are willing to step up. And this campaign is one way to finally erase the “R” word, among other insults, from teenagers’ vocabulary once and for all.