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OAK PARK – St. Giles School today launched a new bullying prevention program that will be incorporated into the school curriculum this year. Throughout the school, about 500 students from kindergarten to 8th grade gathered in small groups to create posters about the new program that will hang in each classroom all year.
Older students worked with their younger buddies to cut out bright yellow outlines of each hand. They were asked to consider a list of Catholic values like compassion, kindness and self-discipline. Each student chose a value to write on one hand and an action, showing how they will live that value, on the other hand.
"I chose self discipline as my value and I will live it by watching what I say -- so no bad words come out," said one 7th grader.
Together the cutout hands were used to make the petals of a huge sunflower. The leaves of the sunflower display the four rules of the Olweus program, which is designed to improve peer relationships throughout the school:
- 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 that someboy is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and at home.
The focus on preventing bullying will be incorporated into the school theme for this year, which is taken from the Bible: "Grow in the grace & knowledge of the Lord."
"We will be talking about Catholic values and how they help us to treat people with kindness and respect," said Amy Morton, an 8th grade teacher and the chair of the Bully Prevention Coordinating Committee. "Addressing this issue now will have a postive impact on our community in the future."
The Olweus Program is being introduced with the help of a Chicagoland Bullying Prevention Initiative grant or $1,000 from the McCormick Foundation, with the help of the Youth Services Department of the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
"You will see improved behavior in many different ways, not just bullying," Joanne Bieschke, of the Sheriff's Office told St. Giles faculty, staff and parent volunteers at a day-long training during the week before school started.
Bieschke has been working with a committee of teachers and parents since last Spring to introduce the program at St. Giles. "Our entire school community will be involved in the program," said Principal Sue Poetzel.
In addition to posting the rules throughout the school, the program will include weekly classroom meetings to implement the rules, regular staff meetings to insure consistent supervision and intervention, and important parental involvement.