11/08/10 — Giving Wayne County's language a 'G' rating

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Giving Wayne County's language a 'G' rating

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 8, 2010 1:48 PM

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Brooke Jackson, left, and Kathleen Doughty, seniors at Charles B. Aycock High School, wear their "I'm G" T-shirts as part of an effort that started out as a "No Cussing Day" and resulted in the county commission extending it for the entire month of November. A bulletin board behind the students contains some of the 400 pledges signed by students to clean up their language.

Think before you speak. And when you say anything, make sure to choose your words carefully.

That's the message students at Charles B. Aycock High School are promoting through a "No Cussing" campaign.

The campaign started out as a class project set up by marketing teacher Tammy Vail, who saw a segment on the "Today Show" about a similar effort at a California high school.

Her students at first were not very enthusiastic, she admitted.

"They were like, 'It won't work. Everybody cusses,'" she said. "I was told, 'People are not going to quit cussing.' But I said, 'They'll be more aware of their language.'"

She decided to enlist the help of two senior students, Brooke Jackson and Kathleen Doughty. They came up with a slogan -- "Promoting a G-Rated Life in an R-Rated World."

"We think that cussing is negative and you make people feel bad and set bad examples for younger students," Brooke said. "We're trying to get people to understand you don't have to use cuss words when you talk."

"At first people were against it, like, 'That's stupid, no one's going to do it' but since we have been following it with 'G' everyone's accepted it and is going along with it," she said.

"Some even say, 'I cuss all the time' but say they'll try and stop or watch their language," Kathleen said.

Posters went up all over the school, proclaiming, "I'm a G, Stay Cuss Free," and a week-long campaign started this past week -- complete with buttons, bracelets, T-shirts and pledge cards.

"We actually made a Facebook page, 'I'm a G' and have over 170 'likes' right now and it just started last week," Kathleen said Friday. "We posted a video of 14 or 15 students, each had a line. Brooke edited it to make it like a rap."

"We had a 'no cussing pledge' since (Friday) is No Cussing Day and had over 400 sign pledges," Brooke added.

The cards bore a simple message -- "I pledge to be more aware of what I am saying before I actually speak. I pledge that I will strive to live a more G-rated lifestyle, and that I will try to stay away from activities where cussing is highly incorporated. I pledge to try my best to use the English language in a positive way instead of in a negative way through cussing. I pledge to try my best to be cuss free especially on No Cussing Day, Friday, Nov. 5."

The organizers might have underestimated the power of their own message. The supply of 75 T-shirts and 300 black bracelets featuring the letter "G" quickly ran out.

"Everybody's asking for an 'I'm a G' shirt," said Mrs. Vail, prompting the possibility of another order and distribution by month's end.

The campaign drew county-wide attention last week when the two students asked the Wayne County Board of Commissioners to proclaim Friday as No Cussing Day across the county. The commissioners went a step further, declaring November No Cussing Month.

"One said they would like to make it a year," Brooke said.

"I think it's a great marketing example," Mrs. Vail said. "If you take something and it's marketed the right way, the idea just catches on. .... Truthfully, that's why we do these projects, because the students are able to take the classroom outside -- 'Oh, this is what we're talking about' and hopefully they can use it in their careers one day. No cussing is not cool but being 'G' is cool. I definitely think our students are going to be aware of what they're saying ... and they'll probably remember this for the rest of their lives."