CHARLESTON -- For one day this week at Charleston High School, Trojan red was traded for Green Wave green.

Also, messages of support are appearing on mirrors in girls' restrooms and feminine hygiene products are there for those who need them.

Support for others is the goal of two new student groups at CHS, whether it's trying to prevent violence or making sure people know they matter.

"Our ultimate goal is kindness and inclusion," said CHS sophomore Lindsey Ulrey, who's one of several students who are part of both groups.

The two organizations, Unite CHS and the Women's Achievement League, grew out of less-formal groups that conducted similar efforts during the last school year.

For example, last year's shooting at Mattoon High School was "very close" and made many students feel "there was that fear and there was that need," said Ulrey, Unite CHS's president.

She said there was a good reaction when, shortly after the shooting, a group of students placed notes with messages of kindness on lockers throughout the high school.

In turn, Unite CHS organized an effort to have students and staff wear Mattoon school color green clothing on Thursday to recognize the one-year anniversary of the shooting. A picture of the green-clad group was sent to MHS as a show of support.

Ulrey and CHS teacher Ruth Hughes worked together on the idea of forming Unite CHS. Hughes is the organization's faculty co-sponsor along with teacher Jennifer Bales.

Hughes said the organization is affiliated with SAVE Promise, or Students Against Violence Everywhere, which developed after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

There are other activities planned to try to foster communication and awareness, she said.

Keep reading for FREE!
Enjoy more articles by signing up or logging in. No credit card required.

"We're trying to create a supportive, caring, communicative society," Hughes said.

The Women's Achievement League's members want to change the attitudes some have and "make sure we support each other," said CHS student Rosa Coit, the group's president.

"At this age, young women are pushed to bring each other down," she said.

Having feminine hygiene products in the restrooms means they'll be available for girls who need them unexpectedly or who possibly can't afford them, Coit said.

The messages in the restrooms tell girls they matter and that others are glad they're there, she also said.

"They'll think about that and think we're all here for the same purpose, to learn," Coit said.

The group also chooses a "Woman of the Week," a historical figure to show "what lessons we can draw" that the members hope will become featured in the school's daily announcements, she added.

CHS teacher Kelly Rice, the Women's Achievement League's faculty sponsor, said the group is "for all students" and thinks it's changed the overall attitude "from one of resistance to more accepting."

Indeed, there are boy members of the group, including Levi Thompson, who said he wants to show people that such efforts aren't "just about women."

"It helps spread awareness," he said. "It's about bringing equality to all genders."

Rice said the group members are currently buying the feminine hygiene products on their own and would appreciate donations. She said they can be taken to the CHS office and left to her or the organization's attention.


Subscribe to the JG-TC

Reporting like this is brought to you by a staff of experienced local journalists committed to telling the stories of your community.
Support from subscribers is vital to continue our mission.

Become a subscriber

Thank you for subscribing

Your contribution makes local journalism possible.

Load comments