Dobbs Ferry High School, Middle School and Springhurst students are proudly wearing blue shirts to school on Monday, Oct. 1 in support of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and to call attention to the movement to STOMP Out Bullying™ WORLD DAY OF BULLYING PREVENTION.
The students will be participating in a number of anti-bullying activities planned throughout the month of October to coincide with this nationwide initiative.
Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Rachel’s acts of kindness and compassion have become the foundation for “Rachel’s Challenge,” (www.rachelschallenge.org) a life-altering program which helps motivate students to make positive changes in the way they treat others. Dobbs Ferry High School freshman, Elena Brown, is a member of the Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club and this year’s teen ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying™.
She has been helping to coordinate activities with school administrators, counselors and students. Leading up to BLUE SHIRT DAY™, Elena read bullying “facts” over the intercom each morning to classmates and simultaneously solicited new members for the schools’ FOR Clubs. The High School is also holding a raffle for all students wearing blue on Monday, Oct. 1.
To kick off the month’s activities, the School District’s TV Station DFTV (Cablevision Ch. 75 and Verizon Fios Ch. 47) is running Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on the topic and celebrity PSAs from STOMP Out Bullying™ (www.stompoutbullying.org) will be shown during morning announcements to Middle School students via classroom SMART Boards.
Middle School counselors will be going around to homebase classes on Monday to ask students to make a commitment to promote respectfulness by writing acts of kindness on strips of blue paper and forming a massive chain link with them. This is symbolic of the “chain reaction” that Rachel hoped would be started through selfless acts.
The students will also be designing STOMP Out Bullying™ stickers and handing them out to put on notebooks, backpacks, etc. to encourage students to accept Rachel’s Challenge and “pay it forward.”
On Oct. 18, Rachel’s Challenge Day, there will be an assembly for Middle School students and one geared to Springhurst’s 5th grade students with a guest speaker from the Rachel’s Challenge organization. Students will view a powerful video about Columbine, and during the second half of the program the speaker will focus on true stories from people who were impacted by her words of kindness and compassion.
Students will also be given practical ways in which they can impact their school environment and spread Rachel’s message. That evening, parents and community members are invited to an assembly (7 p.m. in the auditorium) similar to the program that students will participate in earlier in the day and sponsored by the Dobbs Ferry PTSA.
According to High School FOR Club advisors Michelle Propersi and Michelle Haggerty, their goal is for all High School students to view the highly acclaimed movie BULLY (http://thebullyproject.com/). Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. The documentary film BULLY, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.
“Rachel believed that positive words, attitudes and actions can make all the difference in human relationships and our students are up for the challenge,” said Dobbs Ferry school counselors and Middle School FOR Club Advisors Sandra Hacker and Rose Mittan. “This is the third year that we’ve had extremely active FOR Clubs and although all schools are held accountable by NYS Bullying laws and The Dignity Act, we have had activities and programs in place for a number of years to address bullying as well as create a culture of positive behavior.”
At Springhurst, students will also be creating a giant “Chain of Commitment,” drawing pictures on the blue strips of paper which will be displayed in the cafeteria and lobby as a daily reminder to keep Springhurst a caring and respectful community. In addition, students will be visiting and signing the Anti-Bullying Pledge hanging in each hallway and using the STOMP Out Bullying™ stickers to decorate their classrooms. Elementary teachers will be having classroom discussions with their students about the issue and how to respond to different forms of bullying that are appropriate to their age level.
The District has developed “Target Bullying Intervention Programs” focused specifically to each of the three schools. All of the schools have implemented PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions Support) programs. Teacher training is also a major thrust where the staff is taught how to recognize bullying and intervene appropriately. The schools continue to offer counseling and support to students who feel bullied, and school counselors go around to each classroom during the year to conduct lesson on bullying and assertiveness skills for all students.
“These initiatives and BLUE SHIRT DAY™ helps bring awareness and educates children, teens, parents and schools about the issue,” said Ms. Hacker. “It’s not just about bullying, however, it’s about creating an atmosphere of kindness, and a safe and productive place for kids who want to make a difference. Last year’s Middle School FOR Club sponsored four grade-level activities and this year they already said they want to do five. This is our measurement of success…kids who are eager to do even more acts of kindness!”