At Central York Middle School, a message of acceptance and worth to all
Among tables covered with stacked chairs at the close of a school day, members of the Central York Middle School Aevidum Club were busy in the school's cafeteria separating a collection of about 1,000 cut-out hands.
Each hand had a middle schooler’s name written on it, and on Thursday, March 8, they would be displayed across the large windows in the cafeteria.
The club members and adviser Brian Heisey, a science teacher at the school, made the display to demonstrate their commitment to their classmates.
The location was chosen because it is a spot where every student goes throughout the day, club members said. The message being sent is that everyone is represented, everyone has value and worth and that everyone’s got their back.
Aevidum Club members' names were placed around the club sign at the center of the display so that other students will know to whom they can reach out if a need should arise.
Aevidum, which means “I’ve got your back,” began in 2003 at Cocalico High School in Lancaster County, when students lost a classmate to suicide. Since then, it has become a nationwide movement in activism for young people.
The club is in its first year at the middle school. Seventh-grade club member Anna Grechaniuk, 14, said she first heard about the club on the school announcements.
“I want to help people out and spread positivity around the school,” she said.
Hands Across the School is one of several campaigns that the students have put into action. Some others include handwritten thank-you cards to staff and Pennies for Puerto Rico, where money was raised by students and then hand delivered, along with donations from across York County, by staff member Delma Rivera, who serves as the school's diversity education specialist and is from Puerto Rico.
“Aevidum Club is about three major things; suicide awareness, positivity and mental health awareness,” Heisey said, “and anti-bullying is kind of tied in there with it.”
Heisey says the club posts positive messages, including positive quotes throughout the bathrooms at the school. In the future, with Pennsylvania System of School Assessment testing coming up, the students will provide PSSA survival kits for students to purchase, which will include “stress-relief kind of things,” to help them during testing.
Earlier Thursday, the club greeted 30-35 law-enforcement officers for a luncheon. The officers had recently worked with the school as part of an investigation into threats made against the district through social media.
“We all met them as they came in and thanked them for what they did for our school,” said Aevidum Club President Allison Renser, 14.
“It’s such an honor to be in the club because I love spreading positivity to people and making other people happy,” Allison said.