Students take anti-bully message to town

FELTON — To help drive home the idea that bullying is unacceptable, Lake Forest North Elementary School students went for a walk on Tuesday morning.

A Bully Walk.

“The Bully Walk was the culmination of a series of class assignments that discussed bullying, its effect on the victim, why bullying is unacceptable and what to do if you or someone you know are being bullied,” she said.

“The Bully Walk was a great way to get the students involved in the prevention of bullying and to share their commitment with the community.”

Students participated in the event as a part of the Citizenship Unit in social studies, which helps teach students how to consider the feelings of others and be “productive citizens,” she added.

“It is our hope that the assignments and the Bully Walk will have a lasting impression on our students on the importance of not allowing bullying to occur.”

Besides normal classwork, assignments related to the anti-bullying message included creating posters and a chain with positive messages written on each link.

Students then marched the chain and posters around Felton Tuesday, Oct. 11 to proclaim their anti-bullying message to the town.

Assistant Principal and Event Organizer Erin Dotson said the event was well received by students and staff alike.

“It’s important to our staff to participate in our initiatives to help our students grow socially and emotionally,” she said. “Our students are always excited about ways that they can make a difference in the world. They were really excited that this year their one act of kindness could make a difference in the world and start a positive chain reaction of kindness.”

Other staff members could be heard during the walk talking about other benefits of the activity such as physical fitness.

In past years, Physical Education Teacher Daryl Minner had organized a school walk in October to support fitness awareness. But last year, Ms. Dotson and the school’s Positive Support Team joined in to incorporate the walk the National Bully Awareness Month.

Art Teacher Todd Weller joined in, as well, by having students create the anti-bullying posters.

“There are two pieces to this,” Ms. Dotson explained. “The first piece is that we are united in the fact that we want our school to be a safe and caring environment that is bully free. The second piece is that kindness does make a difference and that it matters. One small act of kindness can start a chain reaction that is never ending. The Bully Walk is a piece of how we teach our students about caring for each other and how to interact with each other in a positive manner.”

The anti-bullying message is carried on throughout the year with the help of Guidance Counselor Dana Carey who teaches lessons focusing on social and emotional well-being.

“For the month of October the lessons have focused on courage in and how courage is needed when you are confronted with a bullying situation. The students are also learning coping skills for dealing with bullies. These include using humor, walking away, telling an adult, staying in groups and ignoring,” Ms. Dotson said.

“We are also reinforcing to students how to recognize bullying and that not every negative peer interaction is an actual bullying situation. However, when they do recognize a bullying situation, they are learning that they need to report it to a trustworthy adult. We hope that when the students leave North they have a tool box of social skills strategies to use when interacting with their peers.”

She credited not only the students and faculty for the success of their recent Bully Walk, but the parents as community members, as well.

“The helped collect pledges that will be used toward the students to continue bully awareness and to promote positive behavior,” she said.

“We are already excited for next year’s Bully Walk. Each year our Bully Walk is expanding. This year, we added our Chain Reaction of Kindness and allowed the students and staff to wear orange shirts: the color of unity. North is already brainstorming ideas for next year. Keep an eye out.”

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