On Friday, Oct. 5, Northumberland Middle School held their kick-off event for the school’s new anti-bullying program. All students attended the assembly, and parents and school board members were also invited.
The program being implemented at the middle school is the “Olweus Bullying Prevention Program” (OBPP), which is the most-researched and well-known bullying prevention program available to date. The OBPP is designed to reduce existing bullying problems, prevent the development of new bullying problems, and create a safer, more positive school climate. The program deals with bullying at the school-wide, classroom, individual, and community levels.
At the kick-off event, all students were given blue bracelets inscribed with the slogan “Stand Up, Speak Up, Stop Bullying” as they entered the auditorium. Seventh- and eighth-grade choir students kicked off the program by singing and signing the song “Reach Out,” by Teresa Jennings. Mr. Bailey, School Principal, then spoke to the students about what an important issue bullying is, and stressed that the middle school would be taking all reports of bullying seriously.
Mrs. Sterrett, school psychologist and OBPP coordinator, introduced the new school-wide bullying rules to the audience. Those rules are: 1) We will not bully others; 2) We will try to help students who are bullied; 3) We will try to include students who are left out; and 4) If we know that someone is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.
Other highlights of the kick-off event included bullying skits performed by the Peer Leaders and a teacher song and dance medley. Immediately following the kick-off event, all teachers held a twenty-minute classroom meeting with their students. Classroom meetings will occur every Thursday for the remainder of the school year, during a different class period each week. They give teachers an opportunity to discuss issues related to bullying, respect, and understanding others in a small-group setting. This first classroom meeting involved a role-play situation that illustrated the different roles that students can play in a bullying situation.
Northumberland Middle School is very fortunate to be able to implement this program, which was done through a Virginia Department of Education grant. If you would like to learn more about the bullying program, or would like to assist with the program in any way, please contact Becca Sterrett at (804) 580-5753.