AUBURN, Mass. — Auburn High senior Ashley Fairbanks hopes to help "black out" bullying at her school.
In October, Gov. Deval Patrick's Statewide Youth Council invited students from across Massachusetts to see a screening of the movie "Bully" at AMC Loews Boston Common 19 Theater and attend a "Black Out Bullying" rally at the State House in Boston.
Fairbanks was nominated to represent Auburn at the event by Auburn High health teacher Lynn Barrette.
"I narrowed it down to people that I thought from the beginning have been there for every single solitary thing that has anything to do with raising awareness for bullying," said Barrette.
As a sophomore, Fairbanks worked on a survey on bullying at Auburn High, getting feedback from fellow students on the issue.
"A lot of them said bullying was a problem because of cliques," she said.
Yet Barrette said that if the same survey were taken this year, the result would be very different.
"I think, overall, the climate is great, and people treat each other well," she said. "I think that's a reflection of this class. We've come a long way in a couple of years."
Reflecting on the rally in October, Fairbanks said it was one of the best experiences she has had. "Everyone that was there just wanted to change the world right after," she said.
The message of the day wasn't so much about preventing bullying "but fostering this sense of goodness and kindness," Barrette said.
The film "Bully" was influential, Fairbanks also said, because it allowed her to put herself in the position of those who were harassed by other students.
The event also allowed students from different schools to share ideas on how to black out bullying, with Fairbanks standing up to represent Auburn in the discussions.
"Ashley was a perfect representative," said Barrette. "She was poised, articulate, and I sat there so proud to be attending this day with her. It was truly one of the highlights of my professional career."
Though Fairbanks is headed to College of the Holy Cross next year, she said she wants to help pass along ideas to the younger students, as well as bring what she's learned to college.
"I definitely want to do a black out bullying day, just to remind people how important it is to be good to others," she said.