DANVILLE -- Danville High School students and staff wore pink with pride on Wednesday to symbolize their stance against bullying.
Teachers, students and other employees sported pink for "Pink Shirt Day," which began in 2007 when two Canadian high school students distributed pink shirts to classmates to show support for a freshman boy bullied for wearing pink.
Since then, Pink Shirt Day usually has been held the last week in February and has spread to other countries, including the United States.
Danville's Pink Shirt Day was organized in part by guidance counselor Stephanie Butler. She said she learned about the day from the Bloomsburg Women's Center.
Butler approached two school groups, the anti-discrimination group Spectrum and the anti-bullying group Speak Up, Stand Out, Be Outstanding, which took up the cause of Pink Shirt Day.
Senior Megan LaMotte, a student member of the Speak Up group, helped get the word out to students about the observance and made sure her group became involved.
"I think everyone's been so supportive, especially since it was so last minute," LaMotte said.
Butler said, "We put this together in a few days' time, and we've had a lot of support from the students."
"Bullying is on the rise, in the workforce, societies and schools," she said. For this reason, it's important to continually promote anti-bullying.
Spectrum and Speak Up have "helped immensely" with putting anti-bullying programs together, Butler said, and their efforts have helped to control bullying.
The school's "No Name-Calling Week" was held last week.
Bullying "is not one person's responsibility, it's everyone's responsibility," said Assistant Principal Jennifer Gurski.
While bullying occurs in the school, "we try to be preemptive about it," Principal Lee Gump said. Through the involvement of student groups like Spectrum and Speak Up, it's good for the school to see that anti-bullying is "something the students want."
While state education records from Pennsylvania Safe Schools Online show that reported bullying incidents in the Danville district rose from four to 24 between 2010 and 2011, Gurski hypothesized that this was because there is an increased awareness of bullying and students are more comfortable reporting incidents to faculty.
"I'm glad it's reported more and I can do something about it," she said.
State records also show that reported incidents of fighting went from zero in 2010 to 10 in 2011 and minor altercations went from three in 2010 to 30 in 2011.