Maryville Junior High takes on bullying
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Maryville Junior High School has launched anti-bullying efforts and implemented a comprehensive schoolwide bullying prevention program.
School officials have implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). The program is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer, more positive places for students to learn and develop.
OBPP isn’t a student curriculum, according to a school news release. The program is a coordinated effort by all faculty and staff to supervise and intervene when there is a bullying event.
The program’s rollout has taken one year from staff training to schoolwide implementation.
School counselors Regina Cox and Kim Taylor completed OBPP training in February 2012, said teacher Brynn Everett. The school district paid for the $7,000 training through a Safe Schools Initiative grant.
School officials later formed a committee composed of 12 teachers, two guidance counselors and one parent, she said. Cox and Taylor trained fellow committee members, and the committee later trained every faculty and staff member.
Every school employee has bought into the program, Everett said. The majority of employees will lead 20-minute class meetings, which are scheduled to be held Wednesday mornings.
All employees except cafeteria workers will lead class meetings, she said. They will be preparing lunch at the scheduled time.
School employees will organize 12 class meetings this school year, Everett said. Each meeting features ice breakers designed to highlight similarities between students and activities, such as class discussions, free writing, games and role playing.
Building-level administrators have modified the bell schedule to accommodate the meetings, she said. They have shifted three minutes from each class.
Educators aren’t concerned about losing three minutes, Everett said. “We’re going to get those three minutes back when we don’t have class interruptions. Students will then be able to focus in class.”
Maryville Junior High School kicked off the program following Wednesday’s assembly.
School officials displayed three student videos, including one set to a retooled version of Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks.” Technology teacher Chris Dunkel rewrote the words, tailoring the song to fit the school’s anti-bullying message.
While the video was playing, school employees erupted into a flash mob. They had practiced the dance routine on several professional development days.
Maryville Coordinated School Health Program Wellness Director Roger Murphy delivered the keynote speech. He encouraged students to serve as guardian angels for their peers.
After the assembly, school employees organized their first class meeting. They discussed the program’s goals and objectives with students.
“We want this school to be a place where you feel accepted, where people care about you and where people don’t make fun of you,” said drama teacher Leslie Capozzoli. “We want this group to be a source of communication, so we can all work together.”
Eighth-grader Alex Curle later encouraged his peers to work with faculty and staff. “I’ve been to several schools that literally did nothing to stop bullying, and it’s awful. So, please guys, step up. If you see something in the halls, do something. We can stop this.”
School employees have committed themselves to the program, Everett said. “Staff enthusiasm and commitment will make this program effective.”
“One bullying event is one too many,” said Principal Lisa McGinley. “Adults can’t solve the problem on their own. We need kids to step up, take ownership and serve as guardian angels for other students. In order to knock out bullying, it has to be an all-school effort. We’ve already shown that adults are taking it seriously, because we’re taking time out of our instructional day to change the overall climate and improve student welfare.”
Maryville’s two intermediate schools are reviewing the program for possible implementation, said Maryville Coordinated School Health Program Coordinator Heather Ledbetter.