LYNDON CENTER -- A Day of Silence was honored by members of the Lyndon Institute SPEAK club on April 25. Members of SPEAK did not speak for the entire school day. They could not respond to teachers, answer their friends or join in any conversation.
The Day of Silence is intended to draw attention to the "silencing" felt by the results of bullying and harassment in schools and to bring about a positive response. Sophomore Cyrus Brooks says he was inspired by the work of his fellow SPEAK members. "I knew why we were doing this and I know that all my fellow SPEAK members were just as series about this as I was (if not more). I was also proud of my school and the level of understanding that they brought to the table. They took it with seriousness and showed compassion for what we believe in, supporting us along the way."
For several of the SPEAK students, it felt as if they were invisible. "During the Day of Silence I felt forgotten," says sophomore Jacqueline Kelley. "My teachers did not notice I was there and it was a lonely day."
SPEAK stands for Supporting Peers Equally and Advocating Kindness. According to their faculty advisor Adrienne D'Olimpio, "We try to elevate the culture and climate of the school by providing thought-provoking and interesting assembly topics to get students to follow Lyndon Institute's Core Values of exercising kindness and empathy."
For the SPEAK students, it is a valuable exercise to demonstrate the power of the voice. Senior Bessie McManus spoke of feeling isolated. "On The Day of Silence, I just felt so lonely. I can't imagine what it would be like to feel that removed every single day."
As the students gathered for a photo after their final class, all of the conversations that had been unspoken began to flow as they shared their experiences and frustrations. Freshman Bijan Soleymani and his classmates were visibly moved and excited by the day. "The Day of Silence was an amazing experience for me. Something I definitely want to do again."
Each student ended the day with a better understanding of the trials faced by youngsters who have no voice or who remain unheard. Junior Dalanna Newton responded to a teacher this way. "At the end of the day, my teacher asked me why staying silent all day was so hard and I told him that it wasn't necessarily not talking, but the challenge was being unable to communicate with everyone around you and trying to explain what you mean. That's how the children feel who we are standing up for, like no one is able to understand and hear what they have to say."