WINTERSVILLE - The Indian Creek Local School District is determined to help bring a worldwide epidemic - bullying - to a standstill.
The district will begin its quest by sponsoring an anti-bullying kickoff ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, prior to the Redskin's football game against the Buckeye Local Panthers.
During the summer, Indian Creek district personnel were trained in the OLWEUS bullying prevention program, according to Jamie Kovalski, district preschool coordinator. The program was created by Dan Olweus, a native of Sweden, who has spent more than 30 years researching the effects of bullying.
"Olweus came in June and trained a team from each building in the district, as well as our bus drivers," Kovalski explained. "The secondary training was in August and all staff was trained on how to identify, react and report bullying."
One piece of the program is holding a huge kick-off celebration, she noted. Friday's event will be sponsored through the school district as well as McDonald's and WTOV-TV.
Wintersville Councilman Robbie Martin has been aiding the school in planning the event.
"Tents will be set up before the game and we will be passing out literature on bullying," he explained. "The district came up with the idea about a year and a half ago because of all the news publicized lately about kids being picked on. A lot of these kids do not have anyone to stand up for them and it is becoming a huge problem."
The event will be open to all students in the community, Martin noted. McDonald's will provide food and refreshments and Ronald McDonald will make an appearance.
"Kids enrolled in preschool through 12th grade are invited to participate," Martin stated. "We are hoping to hold this awareness event on an annual basis."
The program on being preventative and responsive hopes to change the existing response to bullying; is research based and not time limited; and takes a districtwide approach, involving bus drivers, secretaries, cafeteria workers, counselors, nurses, administration, custodians, paraprofessionals, parents and community members, according to Kovalski.
Kovalski said the district also hopes to implement the following rules in each building.
Do not bully others.
Try to help students who are bullied.
Try to include students who are left out.
If someone is being bullied, tell an adult at school and an adult at home.
Kovalski mentioned the district plans to implement weekly and bi-weekly meetings conducted by teachers.
"They will discuss bullying situations that may have occurred with their students," she stated. "We also completed a survey district wide to verify bullying hotspots in each building."
Rewards will be distributed to students daily and weekly for good behavior as well as celebrated quarterly in each building, Kovalski added. A rubric of actions and their consequences also was implemented district wide. McDonald's will have coupons and rewards throughout the year.
"We also hope to have an end-of-the-year banquet to invite sponsors and different students who have made major impacts throughout the school year."
Any business interested in sponsoring the program or the kickoff event can contact Kovalski at (740) 264-3502. For information, contact any district school.