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Saugus Union rallies to stop bullying

Bouquet Canyon Elementary School students put together calendars to promote friendship

Posted: January 11, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: January 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Bouquet Canyon Elementary School kids show off their posters of ways to stop bullying at school. Saugus Union School District children recently put together calendars with each month describing a way to stop bullying and promote friendships.

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Saugus Union School District students are learning how to be good buddies instead of bullies during a district-wide Bully Resistant Program, "Pedro's Heart."

The program began on the 15 elementary school campuses in August 2009, teaching pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students about the severity of bullying behaviors.

Through Safe and Drug Free Schools federal grant funding, the Valley Trauma Center partnered with the district to provide classroom presentations and assemblies on the risk factors of bullying.

The program aims to show students that treating others with respect is the only right way to play.

Saugus Union students in every grade were guided to create their own classroom bully resistant-themed posters and school calendars to further establish solidarity in their mission to stop bullying wherever it might start.

Bouquet Canyon Elementary School student Gary Bojorquez, 10, knows why making an anti-bullying calendar is one way to start the year off in a good, friendly direction.

"When you bully people, you are hurting their feelings and that's just not right," Bojorquez said. "All bullying needs to stop now so that we can get along and live better lives."

Fellow Bouquet Canyon student Kayla Chong, 9, knows that a helpful attitude can be applied more places than just the playground.

"If everyone is nice to each other, then people will be nice back to you," Chong said. "When everyone remembers to be nice, then the world will be a more peaceful place."

Made up of drawings from each grade level, the 12 pages of the calendar symbolize ideas for better conflict resolutions and hopes for connecting people to make the future bright.

To further develop anti-bullying skills and foster resiliency factors in students, teachers and administrators conduct follow-up discussions to solidify concepts of respect and explore non-abusive alternatives to problem solving.

But strategies to stop bullying don't stop there.

Students, teachers and administrators alike join together in a pledge to remember what they learned during the presentations.

The "Hero Pledge" can be seen and heard in every classroom to honor each school's resolve to uphold the values of good citizenship, reminding students to treat others the way they would want to be treated.

Bouquet Canyon Elementary School Principal Jeff Pettipas knows why the effects of this program will be seen for years to come.

"The program's teachings are a valuable experience for children of all ages to learn about the different types of bullying, how to deal with these situations and work together as a community to provide a safe and respectful environment," Pettipas said. "The key here is to empower each student to learn non-violent strategies and come together on a common definition of bullying. We hope they carry this understanding with them from now on."

Rio Vista Elementary School Assistant Principal Jennifer Stevenson shared her own views on the changes she's seen in students so far.

"There is definitely more student awareness about bullying behavior and the school reinforces daily reminders every day,"
Stevenson said. "One important concept that students have learned is the difference between ‘tattling' and ‘telling to get help.' This program is wonderful and has provided the students with powerful skills they can use to help them in school, but also throughout the rest of their lives."

The program will continue to tour district campuses through March 2010 and reminders of its teachings will be reinforced on a daily basis.

Two Bouquet Canyon students helped sum up the life lessons they've learned already.

"Abusing someone is not just a physical thing. It can be mental as well. Your words can hurt just as much and sometimes even more," said student Reilly Charles, 10.

Calista Fik, 8, said: "When you are bad to people, you're not going to get your way. You may think you will, but being mean won't ever solve anything."

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