A few members of the Kennebunk High School Student Senate got together last week to talk about the Spirit of KHS Campaign pledge the senate created to counter cyberbullying. Here are Lily McGovern, Mary Hauser, Adora Olise and Sean Horgan. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – A couple of weeks ago, students at Kennebunk High School took a stand. They stepped forward to sign the pledge – they made a promise – that they would be kind, and they would not bully others.

The Spirit of KHS Campaign pledge for kindness – and against cyberbullying – was the brainchild of Kennebunk High School Senate President Mary Hauser, who along with many others in the student senate, put the pledge project together near the end of the annual Spirit Week in mid-March.

It is there in the lobby, posted with all the signatures for everyone to see, read and practice its message.

The Spirit of KHS Campaign pledge says: “I will use social media platforms to spread kindness, not hate. I will not bully, harass, or belittle other members of my community on sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, Yik Yak, and Twitter. I will stand up for my peers, rather than put them down.”

It came, said four of the senate students who worked on the project, because of a significant uptick in cyberbullying that began in January.

What kind of bullying?


“Body shaming, direct comments about specific people, rumors,” said Senate member Adora Olise. People’s names were used, as were their addresses in some cases.

There was talk about sexual assault, said Senate member Lily McGovern.

Kennebunk High School Student Senate members say a good majority of students have signed a pledge encouraging kindness and against cyberbullying. The Maine Department of Education pegs enrollment at the school this year at 735. Tammy Wells Photo

Disparaging comments were leveled at students, and school administrators and teachers as well, they said.

A favored app was Yik Yak, where people can post comments anonymously.

“Some students didn’t want to come to school,” said Hauser of the impact on victims.

Screenshots of postings were reported to the school administration. Victims were offered counseling,


Upset about the cyberbullying, the KHS Student Senate sprang into action, determined to do something to spread a more positive message, and once they decided on the pledge, moved quickly to pull it together. Senate member David Rush refined the final wording, and then it was ready.

“This was spur of the moment,” said Hauser, “It went up in two days.”

“They worked hard to get it done,” said KHS Student Senate faculty advisor Beth Keezer of the pledge project.

“(It is) a great way to create a positive movement,” said McGovern.

“It shows we support anti-bullying,” said Senate member Sean Horgan.

The Maine Department of Education pegs  enrollment at KHS at 735  students. And while student senate members do not have an exact signature count, they believe a good majority of students have signed the pledge.


The KHS Student Senate is a group of students, administrators, teachers, parents, and other community members who meet monthly to collaborate to solve problems facing the school, said Hauser. In all, there are about 24 members. Hauser said the Senate has tackled a number of difficult issues over the last few years, including student stress, gender equity, school-community communications, and, more recently, cyberbullying.

She said a large number of students contributed significantly to the pledge campaign.

“This is just one example of the incredible work the senate does in finding solutions to problems facing the school,” she said.

Olise noted there has been a mass deletion of the earlier bullying posts on social media, “but it’s still going on.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2019, about 16 percent of students in grades 9–12 in the United States reported being electronically bullied during the previous 12 months.

Assistant Principal Will Putnam said bullying, whether online or in person, can have negative impacts on student learning and academics, and other social relationships, along with anxiety and depression.

He said pledges like the one installed by the student senate “will not solve the greater issues of peer conflict or all instances of mean behavior,” but can help.

“It certainly can contribute to the greater health of the community,” said Putnam. “Saying affirming things out loud as a community is important. Spreading the message that the vast majority of students at Kennebunk High School are dedicated to treating one another with dignity and respect helps to create a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. The very laudable pursuit of these students in securing such commitments from their peers can only serve to continue the tradition and evolution of KHS Ram pride.”

“There is a constant opportunity, expanded by social media, to make a difference in others’ lives,” said Hauser. “It is everybody’s duty to use that opportunity for spreading positivity. The Spirit of KHS Campaign shares the message that Kennebunk High School is not a place that will tolerate hate. It will hopefully encourage and inspire students to make positive choices.”

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