Laney High School students heading to Raleigh to talk anti-bullying at national summit

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Laney High School's SAVE chapter won a $75,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation.
Laney High School’s SAVE chapter won a $75,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation last year; this year they’ll present a session at the Raleigh national SAVE conference. (File photo)

RALEIGH – Seven in 10 students witness bullying in school, but less than one third report it to adult, according to StopBullying.gov. Laney High School students will take part in a summit next week to help change that.

The Laney chapter of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) will join other chapters from around the country in Raleigh on April 1. The chapter, led by President Victoria Chang and Vice President Laura Coston, won an Allstate Foundation grant last year which will in part facilitate their travel to this year’s national conference. There, the Laney chapter will lead their own session.

Laney High School's SAVE Vice President Laura Coston. (Photograph by Benjamin Schachtman)
Laney High School’s SAVE Vice President Laura Coston. (Photograph by Benjamin Schachtman)

Coston said the Laney chapter has worked this year on combating stereotypes and hopes to bring that experience to other chapters.

“Our Students Against Violence Everywhere chapter will lead a break out session at the national youth-led summit titled ‘X-Ray: The Higher Energy of Young Leaders,'” Coston said. “During this session, the goal is to educate our peers on our experiences with the dangers of stereotypes and how judging others can impact a person’s life, all in a fun and effective way.”

Carleen Wray, the executive director of National SAVE, said these “break out sessions” are the most important part of the conference.

“Peer-led presentations and workshops throughout the day allow youth to learn from each other’s different perspectives,” Wray said. “[It] arms them with strategies to combat everyday youth safety issues such as bullying.”

Chang, Laney’s chapter president, said she was looking forward to listening to projects other groups were working on. Chang hopes to bring back the best sessions from Raleigh to help teach Laney students.

“I would like to learn how other SAVE chapters across the country are effectively addressing issues such as reckless driving, bullying and violence,” Chang said.

Laney HS SAVE Vice President Laura Coston. (Photograph Benjamin Schachtman)
President Victoria Chang at a recent meeting of Laney High School’s SAVE chapter. (Photograph by Benjamin Schachtman)

Chang added that the hardest part for Laney’s SAVE chapter is taking the lead on social issues.

“The biggest challenge we face as members of SAVE is stepping up to the plate and setting a good example for our fellow peers, even during difficult situations,” Change said. “Our chapter members strive to serve as role models for our school and community to encourage others to end the youth safety issues we face each day.”

The National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere is a nonprofit committed to reducing violence in schools and communities. The annual conference and workshop, held this year in Raleigh, was inspired by the Mother Theresa quote, “Peace begins with a smile.”