This year Wrangell School District students and faculty are focusing on tolerance, and in particular bullying awareness. Two high school seniors have made bullying the focus of their senior project and with the help of High School Academic Counselor Lisa Nikodym is expanding awareness throughout the district.
Nikodym says bullying tends to start in elementary school with what she calls soft bullying. This includes, name calling and gossiping, which she says often escalates once students reach middle school. This is why Nikodym says it’s important to start anti-bullying education as early as possible.
“I think often we forget how our actions are perceived by other people. When I talk to a lot of the kids and I ask ‘why did you say that?’ and they don’t think anything of it or realize how much it hurt the other person. So it’s just helping people to become more educated and understand how their actions are affecting other people,” she says.
So far Nikodym and the two high school seniors have visited eight classes of grade-schoolers at Evergreen Elementary School. Their thirty minute anti-bullying presentation covers what bullying is, how it makes a person feel and what to do if you are being bullied.
They plan to continue courses in the Middle School and High School in the weeks to come. Amanda Briskar is one of the seniors working with Nikodym on the program as her senior project. Briskar says she has always been interested in helping people feel better about themselves and plans to study psychology once she graduates from high school. She says so far working with the elementary school students has been very rewarding.
“The elementary students are very good about knowing what bullying is. When we ask them about what bullying is, they are usually spot-on and get the right answer. They are also very good about knowing what to do when you see a bully and how to recognize them, so they are doing pretty good,” she says.
Working with Briskar is senior Cassie Stuart. Nikodym, Briskar and Stuart plan to bring presenters to Wrangell to talk about bullying as well as develop a table at the Wrangell Health Fair in the spring to expand on bullying and its overall emotional and physical affects.
“We are really trying to cover all of our bases by making sure the word is out there. It’s not a huge problem in Wrangell, but it is a problem. It’s something we want to do away with so our kids can function at a high level and enjoy going to school and prosper during that time,” she says.
Starting the week of October 10th Nikodym, Briskar and Stuart will be visiting the middle school and high school to give presentations on bullying. For more information on the program you can contact Academic Counselor Lisa Nikodym at the Wrangell High School at 907-874-3395.
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