#HerkHeroes highlights power of empathy

What’s your super power?

That was the question Herkimer Jr./Sr. High School teachers and administrators answered during a recent meeting.

The activity was part of an initiative that’s being branded as “Herk Heroes,” and its message is a simple one: Each of us as “super powers” — kindness, creativity, wisdom — that we can use to be a hero to those around us.

The message of #HerkHeroes is one of empathy — a skill that most adolescents are still working to develop. Empathy has been called “the antidote to bullying,” a skill that helps young people not only avoid bullying behaviors themselves, but also stand up to bullies and intervene on behalf of others.

And, as art teacher Heather McCutcheon pointed out, the school can play an important role in setting an example.

“Teachers have to be the first line of defense,” McCutcheon said.

The school will welcome students back after winter break with a special assembly that will drive the #HerkHeroes message home, and help set the tone for the rest of the school year.

“We don’t want it to be a one-shot deal,” McCutcheon said. “We want this to really make a difference.”