The school hosted "Pink Out" in honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The highlight of the morning event had students, staff and visitors wearing pink as they lined up on the football field to form a pink ribbon; the ribbon's loop also doubled as the "O" in the word "HOPE," which participants also helped spell out.
The idea to spell that word out came from seventh-grader Dylan Flemister, who presented the idea to AMS sixth-grade teacher Christy Ridley, one of the organizers of the event, which is in its third year.
"I think you have to have hope to find a cure for cancer, so that's how I came up with it," said Flemister, who joined his peers to help form the letter "E."
"It's awesome to be out here doing this to support everybody. Just to support everyone that had [breast cancer] and survived it, I think that's important," Flemister added.
The event also featured a survivor's lap for those who had overcome breast cancer or any form of cancer. One participant in the lap was Pine Log Elementary Principal Nancy Summey, who came to the event with about 80 of her school's fifth-graders.
"Two years this January, I had surgery, and was diagnosed in December before that January with breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy, six treatments of chemo, but I'm back and I'm good, and I'm a survivor, and this was a good experience," Summey said. "I've shared a little of my story with my kids to let them know that I've gone through it and that I am a survivor and I'm doing well.
"I think that it was very special for them, because it had a special meaning because of me. They all knew about what happened to me, and they all know that I'm good now, so I think it was very special for them," she added. "This is such a huge disease now. It touches many, many lives. I think it's great that they are aware and that they are a participant, and that they realize the great depth of this and that they can do something and make a difference."
An estimated 1,600 to 1,700 students took part in the event, which has grown each year in participation -- and in the display created by the participants.
"We went from the outline of a pink ribbon the first year to filling in the pink ribbon last year with Adairsville Elementary. And then this year, we've also included the fifth-graders at Pine Log, the fifth-graders at Clear Creek and the STARS Pre-K class at Adairsville High," Ridley said. "Clear Creek and Pine Log are our feeder schools, so those fifth-graders will come here next year, so we were thinking of it as a transition activity for them to kind of get to know what we do here. And the pre-K class is at the high school and so they're willing and ready; we have a lot of people on staff that have children in that class, so they wanted to come participate as well."
In addition to Thursday's event, the school in its efforts to bring awareness to and fight breast cancer raised $630 for Atlanta 2-Day Walk through teacher blue jean days and a "kiss a goat" competition, where students donated money toward the teacher they wanted to see kiss the animal.
Though the first "Pink Out" event was aimed at setting a Guinness World Record by attempting to form the "Largest Human Pink Ribbon Formation" -- the attempt had 687 participants, but the school did not make or break a record -- Ridley said the annual occurrence has become something more.
"It has changed into we're honoring the survivors, we're honoring their fight, we're honoring the hope," she said. "We want kids to learn a lesson that there is more to life than just them, that there is a bigger world out there and that they need to participate in community service-type stuff."
"What we want to do is make sure our kids have an opportunity to learn that they've got responsibilities in the community, especially in Adairsville," AMS Principal Bruce Mulkey said. "That's the strength of our school -- we have a lot of community support, they're very active in our school, and we think it's important for our kids to learn they've got responsibilities as well, and this is a way to teach them what Miss Ridley's talking about, that there are things that are bigger than you. Sometimes as a middle school student, you don't always get that, so we try to hammer that point home to them."