As American educators and legislators look to improve the quality of education country-wide, bullying has constantly dominated national headlines.
Bullying has been commonplace in schools for as long as we can remember. Kids who are different from the norm are usually the victims of unwarranted physical or verbal attacks. In recent years, bullying has evolved from its in-school form to the Internet and beyond as well.
The students at are ready to change the status quo about bullying in all forms.
“Today we need to stop this. As a school we took a pledge that it would be normal to stop bullying and to create a safe community for all students,” said Danielle Petrucci, a life skills teacher at the school.
Petrucci oversees a peer mentoring group at the school called H2O – meaning help to others-- along with Kristen Herzog, a Spanish teacher.
The H2O mentoring group is made up of 33 eighth grade students who want to help incoming sixth graders transition from elementary school. Several events like game nights and movie nights are scheduled throughout the year to ensure that the mentors keep in touch with their assigned sixth graders.
The H2O program recently partnered with the Boomerang project, an anti-bullying non-profit company based out of San Francisco.
“(Boomerang Project) is the number one proven anti-bullying program,” Herzog said. “I know other schools use mentoring programs, but we are one of the first here on the East Coast to implement one that works this well.”
Everything the group has done throughout the year was built up towards the final assembly at the end of the year, which was held last Thursday.
Principal Matthew Fox alerted the students about the new anti-bullying law in the Massachusetts in a fun and interactive way. A series of short videos and scenarios were portrayed in front of the student body to emphasize the importance of a bully-free school.
At the end of the assembly, each student received a T-shirt and a hand to write upon. The t-shirt had the picture of a license plate with the moniker “Licensed for Kindness” across the back and was designed by sixth-grader Stephanie Goodwin.
Each student signed their paper hands in their respective homerooms, which will eventually be displayed in the school lobby to signify the student body’s stance against bullying.
“It’s time we all know what a bully free school looks like,” said Petrucci, “Today we finally made that pledge.”