Posts Tagged With: Speak Up & Stand Out

AMS Students Rally to Keep Their School Bully-Free

Just like their Falcon counterparts in the high school, these middle schoolers are learning to Speak Up and Stand Out in their building, too. With the help of guidance counselor Rhonda Wilson, students spent a week learning to celebrate the characteristics that make them unique — and learning how to accept and celebrate the unique qualities in others, too.

Allendale Middle School, Anti-Bully

Students were invited to add a post-it note of things they like about themselves during the middle school’s anti-bully week.

With statistics indicating that bullying peaks in middle school and that relational aggression among girls is at its highest in 8th grade, Allendale believes that attacking the issue of bullying is critical. To do so, Mrs. Wilson explained that one of the first steps they take is defining it clearly and explaining the difference between “an intentional, repeated imbalance of power” and mean behavior or normal conflict.

Another anti-bullying technique that Allendale Middle School continues to use gives students an anonymous way to report problems. It is called the “bully box.” The bully box offers students a way to submit reports of bullying to school administrators by merely dropping a note into the box — no name required.

Echoing the spirit of Elie Wiesel who once famously said, “What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander,” one AMS student commented, “The bully box gives bystanders an outlet to say something.”

The school has also instituted an open invitation for students to put notes in their teachers’ mailboxes if they prefer. This, combined with other anti-bullying training that each grade receives, is helping to continue a safe learning environment at school.

“All students in the middle school were trained in anti-bullying techniques last year, and the 6th grade was trained and will continue to be trained each year.  It allows for common language and skills for sticking up for yourself and others,” said Mrs. Wilson.

The “Sit by Someone New” initiative at lunch is yet a third way students can build bridges and foster understanding with classmates. On this day, students were given color-coded cards that they matched up with another person holding the same color card. Once they found a partner, they had the opportunity to sit by someone they didn’t know or usually sit with.  The hope here is that walls will be broken down when students talk with those who seem “different” or are unfamiliar to them.

Finally, one of the new things Allendale Middle School will be trying this year is an online mediation forum between a school counselor and students struggling with relationships at school.  Mrs. Wilson shared that the school is working with the technology department to pursue options for this new platform.

For all the students who have made the commitment to be kind and be a friend, thank you! Our hallways are safer because you’ve pledged to work against bullying!

Allendale Middle School, Anti-Bully

Mrs. Wilson joins a group of students for a lunchtime discussion.

Allendale Middle School, Anti-Bully

Categories: Allendale Middle School, Allendale Public Schools | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Stand Up! Speak Out!

Speak Up Stand Out, Allendale High School

Pictured L to R: Angelenia Schneider, Jamie Egan, Mrs. Harp, Elizabeth Golembiewski, Savanna Wells

When Allendale High School teacher Tiffany Harp was asked to chair a committee charged with assessing the bullying policies in their student handbook, she never imagined that a seemingly “simple task” would lead to the formation of an entirely new student support group.

Having met twice a month throughout the winter of 2013 with her team, the group successfully updated the definition of bullying, named some of the reasons that kids are bullied and provided procedures for reporting the activity. Those updates can be found here.  These were important steps not only for protecting students, but for providing consistency throughout all district handbooks. Additionally their work resulted in more accessible language, making Allendale policies easier to understand.

But their work didn’t stop there.

Because Mrs. Harp had also attended conferences on bullying and desired to have an active, on-campus group to model desired behavior, she met with some students and proposed the idea of an anti-bullying group. It was there that the idea for Stand Up Speak Out was born.

Senior Savanna Wells designed the logo.

Senior Savanna Wells designed the logo.

“What Speak Up Stand Out means, is that we’re trying to send the message to empower bystanders, because when people are in a uncomfortable situation they kind of freeze up and do nothing. We want to encourage them to do something that they feel safe and comfortable doing– whether it is just going online and reporting it or actually saying something to a group which takes a lot of courage,” said Mrs. Harp.

Savanna Wells, pictured left, was invited to design the logo for the group which has been used to promote Stand Up Speak Out at the Annual Back to School Fair, on the Miranda Show, and at a September all-school assembly featuring Paul McMullen from TruthLocker.

Perhaps the most exciting product of the group’s work has been the creation of a PSA video to Katy Perry’s Roar.  This video not only featured students from the Speak Up Stand Out group, but went on to be featured twice on Good Morning America!

One member, Elizabeth Golembiewski shared,  “I think [Speak Up Stand Out] makes the students care a lot more about bullying, because I don’t think a lot of people talked about it before. Now, because of Speak Up Stand Out, they’re like, “Wait a minute–why is this not being taken care of?” Now we have this whole new initiative.” Elizabeth went on to state that bullying seems to be mostly prevalent online.

All the students involved in the group are committed to the idea of making every student feel safe and accepted at school. Jamie Egan, a junior, said that he had been bullied in the past, but after going to Mr. Remenap he’s seen a change for the better. “I realize now, though,” he shared, “…that I should have come forward sooner.”

We hope that all students will gain courage and inspiration from the work that this group and many others are doing. And for the inspiration he provided the group, Mrs. Harp wishes to thank Dr. Jonker.  “He really “co-chaired” this committee and you can tell he is passionate about this and genuinely cares.  It was great working with him.”

Categories: Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools | Tags: | 2 Comments

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