MIDDLE RIVER, Md. (WJZ) — The passion of Purple Friday at one Baltimore County school has become a teaching tool for school leaders.

As Gigi Barnett explains, it’s a serious lesson with a lighthearted approach.

Rounding up 600 students for picture day on the phys-ed field takes a bullhorn and a little bit of encouragement for Hawthorne Elementary principal Yvonne Barhight.

But the important thing at this Middle River school isn’t the photo, it’s the T-shirt. It’s the right color for a Purple Friday, and the right message for the start of Bullying Awareness Month.

“When people bully, something’s happening in their life that they don’t like. So they put the stress on other people,” Corey Johnson, Hawthorne fifth-grader.

Students at the school say they’ve seen bullying in the halls before, although not much. The purple T-shirts also teach them to be leaders–a major teaching theme at the school–and to speak up if they see bullying.

“I don’t want anybody to get hurt in between them two. So I’ll just go up to one person and be like, ‘Chill.’ It’s not worth fighting for,” said Kaylon Duncan, Hawthorne fifth-grader.

The shirts were given by an anonymous donor. All parents had to do to get kids a T-shirt was to write in and say yes.

“It’s working, it’s really working. We have fewer kids getting referrals to the office. And kids are doing compliments, we have compliment jars,” said Barhight.

And many of those compliments are on the purple shirts.

Parents didn’t have to pay a dime for the T-shirts. They were all free.

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