October is National Bullying Prevention Month. All month long, Disney and ABC are encouraging people to put an end to bullying by choosing kindness.
Students at Bremen High School in south suburban Midlothian are choosing kindness and making Chicago proud through a program called, "T-shirt Tuesday," which sparks conversations among teachers and staff, one shirt at a time.
The simple concept, created by English teacher Sarah Bogard, is making big changes at Bremen.
"So on the first Tuesday of the school year, I wore my t-shirt and told my story. I told kids that it was going to be a way to share things about me, so I could learn about them and have it be a reciprocal exchange in conversation," Bogard said.
T-shirt topics vary by staff and student. It's up to each individual what they want to share each week.
"So the way that I pick my shirt and the way they pick their shirt is basically on, 'What conversation can we have? What story can we tell?" Bogard said. "So some teachers and students do positive uplifting quotes, some do their favorite band, or a Harry Potter shirt to talk about their favorite books. Things like that. It's really what you want it to be."
Conversations that started in her classroom are now spreading through the hallways of the school and giving students a chance to connect.
"It just reveals things they may have not shared with you any other time, because they may have been afraid. But wearing the shirt - it's inspirational," said Mounes Betancourt, a senior.
"It's like a great ice breaker to start off a conversation. It's hard to just go up to someone and say, 'Hey, what's your name?' But if you can connect with a shirt, it's easier," said Inaya Smith, a senior.
Bogard hopes this tradition continues to grow as the years go by, and create a welcoming environment for students.
"More than anything, I want this to be relationship-building instead of academic all the time. It makes my classroom feel a lot more comfortable and safe," Bogard said.
Bogard, her sister and her brother are all teachers. She said this idea sparked from a family conversation on ways to reach out to students.
Choose Kindness: T-shirt Tuesday helps spark conversations at Bremen High School