Tanya Rinehart, left, a Moffat County High School senior, talks with Carroll Morris, MCHS counselor, Friday afternoon at the school. Morris has started a Tolerance Group, suggested by Rinehart, at the high school to teach students to look past others' dress and hairstyles, which are illustrated by the jellybeans she uses that look like a certain flavor but are made to taste like another color.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Tanya Rinehart, left, a Moffat County High School senior, talks with Carroll Morris, MCHS counselor, Friday afternoon at the school. Morris has started a Tolerance Group, suggested by Rinehart, at the high school to teach students to look past others' dress and hairstyles, which are illustrated by the jellybeans she uses that look like a certain flavor but are made to taste like another color.

A jellybean of a different color

Tolerance Group encourages acceptance through understanding

— Hicks. Jocks. Preps. Goths.

Carroll Moore, Moffat County High School counselor, has heard all the names. They are as varied as the bagged jellybeans she holds in her hands.

Yet, these are no ordinary confections. The multicolored candies teach a lesson.

Students who think they can determine the flavor of one of the candies by its color receive a surprise when they bite into a black jellybean and discover it's actually cherry-flavored.

The lesson?

"People are not always as they seem," she said.

Moore advises the high school Tolerance Group, a new student organization set on helping students look past the clothes, the hairstyles and the single syllable labels and see each other as individuals.

"We tried to get people from different groups (to join) so they could know (others) as people, not stereotypes," Moore said.

Dissolving stereotypical views can prevent bullying behavior - a response created out of fear or a lack of confidence.

"Kids who do (bully others) are trying to find their place," Moore said.

They also may be trying to find their identity, she added.

The group is in its trial stage. If students show enough interest this year, it could become a new club that would sponsor activities and class presentations in the future.

Senior Tanya Rinehart suggested the club to Moore last spring.

Students can get made fun of for simple things, Rinehart said, including hair color, she added, pointing to her now-auburn locks, which she recently dyed.

Differences of the mind also can draw fire.

"So many people are hated for what they believe," she said. "They don't feel like they can be themselves."

Rinehart hopes the group can bring in guest speakers - including individuals from outside of Craig.

"I think when people see how other people work," they're more willing to accept their differences, she said.

Rinehart graduates this year, leaving behind the beginnings of a group she hopes will continue to meet after she's left.

She knows the group can't stop bullying and hazing between social groups.

Still, it can do something.

"It will raise awareness," she said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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