Walpole High Takes the Pledge to Stop the Use of the “R-Word”


Erin Pitman

Best Buddies members gather around the “Spread the Word to End the Word” banner during lunch block.

Students and teachers encouraged the entire student body to end the use of the “R-word” on Wednesday, March 4.  At the table set up in the cafeteria, students signed the “Spread the Word to End the Word” banner to symbolically show their support.  Chromebooks were also available, so individuals could pledge their online support for the cause.  Adding to the 555,000 people around the nation who have already given their support to the cause, over 250 Walpole High School students and faculty members registered to take the pledge throughout the four lunches.

Although some students helped implement the advocacy campaign, many members of the student body became aware of this issue because of the project.

“I feel the r-word is a very derogatory word and this is a great way to spread awareness that this word should not be used to talk about any person,” said junior Catherine Paul.

The campaign was a collaborative effort between numerous student groups.  Mrs. Mary Caine, a teacher in the Career and Education program, headed the campaign with the help of Student Council and Best Buddies. Mr. Mitch Mortali, the director of Best Buddies and Ms. Kerry Mcmenimen, the Student Council supervisor also joined Mrs. Caine in leading the campaign.

“This year, we did announcements and video clips on the daily news of how the word impacts people with intellectual abilities,” said Caine, “and in the cafeteria, students are taking the actual pledge on the “R-word” website, so we can be able to tally how many students from Walpole High School took the pledge.”

In past years, the Rebel Report News has called attention to how to promote respect by agreeing to stop the “r-word”; however, this is the first year that students could make the pledge to stop using the “r-word.” The campaign also distributed flyers around the school to explain the harmful effect the “r-word” can have on special education students. The flyer stated the following: “The R-word is the word “retard(ed)”. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory.”

“I feel like it is our job to promote tolerance and make the school a safe, warm, and embracing place for all,” said Mr. Mortali. “If students feel that way, it is easier to learn. I feel like Walpole High does that and it is mainly a testament to the students.”

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