Keeping the Anti-Swearing Campaign Alive
After Students Take the Pledge
Keeping the Dare Not To Swear campaign alive has meant carrying out pre-planned activities as well as developing new ones and letting the campaign lead us in new directions.
According to plan, we continue to send flyers to all teachers every two weeks to post in their classrooms. The first one featured short rhyming slogans - that my students wrote - encouraging students not to swear. We've held contests, some with prizes from local businesses, and we continue to spread the word to the community. Before the semester break, I was asked to speak to our local school board. They were so enthusiastic about the campaign that they were talking about calling Oprah!
We set up a daily TV bulletin "Dare Not To Swear!" advice segment. Each day a student announcer broadcasts the advice of the day—contributed by a parent, local businessperson, or local celebrity—to the entire high school and to approximately 12,000 households in the Bremerton Community.
One reaction to the campaign has surprised me—students wanting to tell you how they feel about the campaign.
My fashion students eagerly took on an assignment I gave them to write about places "where Knights (our mascot) should dare not to swear." They wrote about the cafeteria, hallway, classroom, sporting events, and so on—problem areas identified in the survey students took last year (about ways we could improve our school).
Here is some catchy phrasing from senior Andrew Ramirez:
Five minutes of passing in the hall can be tough
But make sure the language doesn't get rough.
During class time it's just not cool
It's rude, disruptive, and sometimes cruel
Remember Knight pride, this is our school!
Dare not to swear. Knights shall make it known
That BHS is a swear-free zone!
Using these and other student-written statements, we created and then distributed "Dare Not To Swear!" flyers.
At the end of the first semester of this campaign, I announced a poetry contest about swearing and the campaign, and the next day I had two thoughtful pieces on my desk.
We've had positive feedback from adults in our school and beyond. The wristbands have become so popular that people outside the school district have asked to purchase them for their children, job sites, and youth organizations. So we've had to order more.
And numerous people have written about their reactions to the campaign as it has unfolded. Here are a few of their comments:
As an advisor for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, I knew that the "Dare Not To Swear!" campaign would be an opportunity to support our number one goal: "To promote opportunities for personal development and preparation for adult life." I know how key it is for our youth to become active members of communities and be good citizens. Using appropriate language in all arenas of life helps to train students in positive ways for their future.
—Susan Abbe, student group advisor
I have heard conversations of students challenging each other to dare not to swear. I have also confronted students using bad language and said, "Dare not to swear," and that is all I have to say. I think it is in the back of their minds all the time now.
—Daniel McInnis, campus security
I'm observing (since the start of the program) more and more that both students and staff are talking about the program and reminding one another not to swear. I'm noticing a more positive approach where students remind students. This will go a long way in students' personal and professional development as they transition from high school to college or the job force.
—Ken Aries, assistant principal
This project continues to amaze me. I recently overheard a student swearing in the hallway outside my classroom, and as I walked toward the door, I saw three other students surround him, and say "Dare not to swear, Dare not to swear." The student stopped immediately and apologized. He hadn't even realized what he'd said.
Sound too good to be true? That's what I keep thinking, but our anti-swearing campaign—Dare Not To Swear—continues to build momentum.
About the Author
Madonna Hanna, a Milken National Educator, has been teaching fashion marketing at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington, for the past ten years, and is currently serving on the district's Behavioral Committee. Prior to her career in education, Hanna worked in fashion merchandising. Hanna's marketing classes are among the career and technical classes that students may take as electives, in addition to their regular academic courses.