Students also can be effective teachers.
Lighthouse Preparatory Academy (LPA) students are participating in an initiative to stop gossip and its harmful consequences.
In a column published in Sunday's News Tribune, LPA student Rachel Alexander wrote: "Although gossip is a struggle for all humans, it seems to plague teenagers, especially students ..."
The school's student council has adopted a campaign - Stop.The.Talk. - modeled after an anti-bullying program started in 2010 at Mesa Middle School, Castle Rock, Colo.
Is it too great a leap to connect gossip with bullying?
Alexander doesn't think so. She wrote: "However, gossip is a form of bullying. Think about it - when someone causes you physical harm, the pain is over pretty quickly, but when someone spreads gossip and rumors, it lasts."
Gossip causes pain, alienation and ostracism. And we know, based on news reports, that it may lead to violence - suicide, homicide, indiscriminate slaughter - in some cases.
LPA students are asking their peers to use the pneumonic device, THINK. Each letters poses a question: T, is it true? H, is it helpful? I, is it inspiring? N, is it necessary; K, is it kind?
An unattributed, but often repeated, quote reminds: "Great people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people."
Gossip says much more about the speaker than about the subject.
Students, at LPA and elsewhere, who refuse to gossip are setting an example.
They are not small people trying to puff themselves up by putting down others.
They are caring, compassionate people who embody character and deserve our respect and admiration.