‘I Am’ wall at Manor MS seeks to dispel stereotypes

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Visitors to the Manor Middle School cafeteria will notice a colorful new addition to one of the walls – the “I Am” display.

The wall is decorated with hundreds of colored slips of paper containing phrases written by students to complete the sentence “I am … .”

Students were asked to write something about themselves that most of their classmates might not know, and their responses — all written anonymously — were revealing.

I am “without a mom,” wrote one. I am “tired of cancer,” wrote another. Other students wrote that they were “socially challenged,” “more than you think I am,” “a dreamer,” “a Christian,” “agnostic” and “smarter than people think.”

The exercise was part of a presentation by school counselor Danielle Rogers on the dangers of stereotyping.

“We talked about how labels are for cans, not for people,” said Rogers. “You need to get to know and understand others and appreciate their differences.”

Students responded positively to the exercise, she said, and the “I Am” wall has been a popular gathering place as classmates try to match the anonymous phrases to their peers.

“The purpose of the wall is to eliminate stereotypes and to show empathy towards others,” Rogers said.

“We all have things going on in our lives that affect us in different ways, and most of the kids realized that we are more alike than we are different.”