LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - From divorcing parents to a death in the family, some students are forced to grow up earlier than others.
This year, those students at Amelia Earhart Elementary School have one more level of support. .
"It's just a way for kids to know there's people on their side here in the building," said Earhart Principal Greg Louk. "Basically it says, 'I know you're having to show more courage that most kids would ever need to. We're here with you. There's a whole school pulling for you.' "
Called the Order of Amelia, the program sees Louk and the school counselor pull a student out of class for a private talk in the hallway. There they give that student a dog tag and a certificate as a way to induct them into the order.
"We say wear it and if a kid asks you and you don't want to say what it's about, you don't have to," Louk told the Journal & Courier. "Just say, 'Mr. Louk and a teacher gave it to me.' That's all they need to know."
The order began last fall, after the death of a sibling of three Earhart students. Louk said he was searching for a way to recognize the strength of those students in private.
"Any school I've been in there are kids that your heart breaks for them," Louk said. "They're going through what kids shouldn't have to go through."
School guidance counselor Diana Snider said she likes that the dog tags give the students something tangible to hold onto.
"I just remember Mr. Louk starting the school year by stating to the students, 'Look out for one another,' " Snider said. "Anytime somebody faces a trauma, whatever that trauma is, you feel very lonely in that trauma."
Snider and Louk hope that as members of the Order of Amelia, those students won't feel quite so alone.
"Courage is so hard to muster," Snider said. "You don't know what to do because there is no script. You can move mountains when somebody believes in you."
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