Students reveal ideas for respect

Published 10:15 am Friday, November 23, 2018

Morgan Creason “high fived” a friend in the hallway at South Davie Middle School.

A teacher saw the action, which is against school rules, and sent Morgan’s friend to the office for an infraction. Three infractions and the student gets more serious punishment.

But Morgan wasn’t sent to the office.

He went on his own, and told school leaders that if his minority friend got an infraction, he should get one, too.

That’s respect.

And Morgan’s idea to help Davie residents show more respect for one another was one of 10 $1,000 prizes awarded last week during the Davie Respect Initiative’s first grants for young people age 12-21.

His idea is to form a student advocacy council with students, teachers and support staff working together to “create a more caring and understanding school environment for everyone.” Those students should include some who aren’t always included in athletics and clubs, he said. “When one person is brave enough to speak, a domino effect is the result.”

“They have ideas that took our panelists breath away,” said emcee Daniel Loob at the Thursday night ceremony at Farmington Community Center. “We need a welcoming community that will allow respect. This idea could spread around the country. This is just the beginning.”

Applications for the 2019 awards start in March. Visit

The Davie Chamber of Commerce and Davie Community Foundation support the initiative.

Chamber executive director Caroline Moser said a lack of respect is evident in most people’s lives, leading to intolerance and self-indulgence.

“It’s effortless to be an advocate for something that means as much as respect does,” Moser said. “My hope is that the respect you give is contagious.”

The initiative fits perfectly into the foundation’s goal of supporting things that make the community better, said foundation president, Jane Simpson. “We can’t to it without respect.”

The winning young people spoke to the crowd about their projects.

• Taylor Bare, 17, moved to Davie County as a junior in high school, and had trouble making friends, even finding her way around school. Her idea is to create a “student ambassador” program that would match a volunteer with a new student, “… just to give them a familiar face … so they won’t have to feel alone like I did.’

• Sydney Walterman, 17, also a Davie High student, wants to develop a program called “Smash It” to help stop rumors and gossip. She had been to a party where there was a lot of “trash talking” about certain students. A counselor asked her about the party, and she asked her dad what to do about such rumors. He told her to smash them. She plans to start a public awareness campaign and form a panel of students who have been harmed by rumors, encouraging students to stop talking negatively about others and showing the harm it can do.

• Mackenzie Smith, 14, wants to set up a place for teens to go and vent and let out their emotions safely, forming a support group for those struggling with the challenges of adolescence. This could help end the stigma that often accompanies mental health challenges.

• Madi Rogers, 13, a North Davie Middle student, plans to create a “Banishing Bias Bingo” game, encouraging people to reach out to those who are different from them. Her goal is to have Davie residents learn more about their neighbors.

• Kaylee Lanning, 16, plans to create a video series of school and community leaders talking about respect. Her idea is for students to see the videos then complete a survey talking about their own ideas for respect. “It would help students think about being respectful.”

• Kayla Roscoe, 16, wants to form a group of young people willing to perform yard work and other tasks for the elderly in Davie County. Fellow students at the Davie County Early College High School are ready to begin the project, she said. She came up with the idea after seeing her own grandmother’s struggles. “When we are able to be aware that all people are different, respect will come easier.”

• Jose Garcia, 18,  a Davie High senior, asked 30 people to define respect. He got 30 different answers. It came down to the golden rule, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” He plans to use art to creat print and electronic images promoting the golden rule. “I want to make it simple, but effective,” he said. “Treat others how you want to be treated … is timeless.”

• Jaeline Anguiano, 21, hopes her project will entice more young people to stay in Davie County after graduating from high school. The video series would include community members talking about their careers and living in Davie County. “Hopefully, high school studentss will see this and want to remain in Davie County.”

• Isabella Brown, 18, wants to open a coffee shop staffed by young people who face challenges like autism, attention deficit disorder and other conditions that make it difficult to find a job. Not only does it help the community better understand people with disabilities, it gives those people a chance to learn life skills, she said.

Students who earned an honorable mention for projects were also recognized: Adrianna Barber, Brandon Durham, Savannah Jones, Brianna Lewis, Asuncion Martinez, Julie Miller, Noor Shehata and Abigail Wells.