October 6, 2010 // Local

St. Vincent de Paul School kicks off anti-bullying program

Students and teachers of St. Vincent de Paul in Elkhart gathered outside after an assembly held to kick off the school’s anti-bullying program to “plant” pinwheels as a symbol of “whirled” (world) peace. The pinwheel idea came from the pinwheels for peace program, which began in 2005. Sitting or kneeling from left are Lourdes Alfaor, Daniel Torres, Cloe Cataldo, Evelyn Urban, Samantha Guzman, Monica Alvarez and Vanessa Celis. Standing, from left, are Braulio Amezquita, Maggie Dickinson, Izzy Samuels, Lupe Aguillar, Brigid Burns, Garrett Kontowsky, and committee members Patty Waters and Melissa Roberts.

By Denise Fedorow

ELKHART —  In honor of International Day of Peace, the students at St. Vincent de Paul School in Elkhart kicked off an anti-bullying program and placed pinwheels on school grounds as a symbol of “whirled” (world) peace.

First-grade teacher Melissa Roberts, one of the committee members for the anti-bullying campaign explained that Principal Donna Quinn heard about the program because it’s used in Elkhart Community Schools and also at St. Thomas in Elkhart.

“She liked the idea of continuity so that if students transferred they’d be familiar with the program,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the goal of the program is to “empower students to know what to do when they see bullying.”

Class meetings are held once a week with community circles to talk about what to do when they are bullied or when they see someone bullying. The program is integrated into the current curriculum. Staff decided to kick off the program on Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace and pinwheels were planted on the grounds as a visual symbol.

The students gathered for an assembly where they were asked, “Who knows what bullying is?” and “Who’s watched someone being bullied and not done anything?”

Teachers offered a skit where Snow White was being made fun of by a few of the seven dwarves as others either joined in or stood nearby. The teachers then role-played with the students what could have been done in that situation. St. Vincent’s was declared a “No Bully Zone” with signs posted around the school.

The students pledged the following No Bullying rules: We will not bully. We will try to help students who are being bullied. We will try to include students who are left out. If we know someone being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and at home.
Students then stood and sang the song, “Don’t Laugh at Me” by Mark Wills. Lyrics include, “Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names, don’t get your pleasure from my pain … I’m fat, I’m thin, I’m short, I’m tall … in God’s eyes we’re all the same, someday we’ll all have perfect wings.”

Father Glenn Kohrman addressed the student body briefly before they dismissed, walking through the school singing, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” They moved outdoors where they were invited to “plant” their pinwheels on the school grounds.

Roberts said she and other committee members, Patty Waters, two parents and Principal Donna Quinn have been training since June to bring the program to the school and plan to hold an annual kickoff.

Quinn said the staff at St. Vincent de Paul added their own touch to the No Bully Zone T-shirts with the line “Let peace begin with me.”
“We Catholicized it,” she said.

St. Vincent de Paul School catches the spirit in bullying prevention

By Leslie Byrne

FORT WAYNE — St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne is addressing the issue of bullying with their new program, Catch the Spirit, developed in Norway by Dr. Dan Olweus. The well-known Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) is designed for all grade levels. Faculty and staff of the school attended a one-day training program for implementation of the program.

In March 2010, St. Vincent’s administrative team surveyed grades 3-7 to gather data supporting a bullying prevention program. Nicole Taulbee from Christ the King School in South Bend was instrumental in introducing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to St. Vincent staff and was their trainer.

The goals of the Catch the Spirit Program are:
• To reduce existing bullying problems among students
• To prevent the development of new bullying problems
• To achieve better peer relations among students

The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program addresses bullying at school-wide, classroom, individual and community levels. Students receive a consistent, reinforced message about bullying over an extended period of time and in a variety of settings. Because bullying has such wide-ranging effects, the program is designed for all students, not just those who are bullied or those who bully others. The implementation of the program is a long-term effort, and will be used year after year.

The Catch the Spirit Program is based on four responsibilities, which St. Vincent’s calls the Community in Christ Responsibilities.

• We will not bully others
• We will try to help students who are bullied
• We will try to include students who are left out
• If we know someone is being bullied, we will tell an adult

The essential element of the program is classroom meetings, designed to reinforce the four responsibilities and to build a stronger awareness of what bullying is and how to respond in a bullying situation.

The St. Vincent parents and the Fort Wayne community support the bullying prevention program at St. Vincent de Paul School. Corporate sponsors include Dupont Hospital, Bob Buescher Homes, Mark Fore Sales and O’Daniel Automotive.

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