GES cracking down on bullying

by nathan oster

Greybull Elementary School has launched a new anti-bullying initiative that rewards students for good behavior and teaches them not only to identify bullying behaviors but also what to do if they are victimized.

The school invited parents to attend an hour-long presentation on the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Classroom discussions and a pizza party followed.

Jacinda Campbell, a GES guidance counselor and member of the committee that put the presentation together, said the school is focusing on bullying because it’s a problem.

“You hear it all over the news, and here is no exception…bullying happens everywhere,” she said. “A lot of students don’t know what bullying is.  They can’t look at a situation and say, ‘OK, that is bullying.’

“Having a program such as OELYS gives kids a concrete idea about what (bullying) is. Then I can teach them the skills for standing up against it and the importance of reporting it to an adult.”

Campbell said there are varying forms of bullying.  There is the face-to face bullying, in which you can see the person doing the bullying.  And then there is the behind-the back, rumor spreading form.

Campbell hopes that by teaching kids about bullying early on, while they are still in elementary school, that they will be better able to deal with it by the time they reach middle school and high school, where bullying “often times escalates into bigger issues.”

The middle school is also implementing the Olweus program, said Campbell.  The program does not extend to the high school level, however.

At Friday morning’s kickoff, Jinks told the students and a small gathering of parents that the state has required that school districts develop anti-bullying programs — and that she wanted the students to strive to become “PBIS stars.”

PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, and through an hour-long presentation, the anti-bullying committee made up of Mrs. Sarah Zeller, Mrs. Kim Curtis as well as Campbell and Jinks, outlined the types of behavior they expect from students.

Each presentation described ways to be safe, respectful and responsible in different school settings, such as in the classroom, in hallways, on the playground, in the cafeteria and in the restroom.

Shifting gears to Olweus, Jinks said, “We will not tolerate bullying at Greybull Elementary School. Bullying behavior can be name calling, over and over, even when the other person tells you to stop and that you’re hurting them and you keep doing it. … Or if you’re mad at one person because they like playing with a different person.”

Jinks outlined three anti-bullying rules that will be in effect at GES moving forward.

“One, we will not bully others.

“Two, we will try to help students who are bullied.

“Three, we will try to include students who are being left out.

“And four, if we know someone is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.”

Jinks said classrooms will hold weekly meetings to discuss bullying and other school issues and she introduced programs in which students can earn Star Tickets and classrooms can earn Star Bucks for exhibiting positive behavior.

For every 10 Star Bucks its collects, each classroom will be allowed to put a piece of a puzzle in place.  Between now and December, the goal will be to complete that puzzle, as an entire school working together.  If it succeeds, the reward, Jinks said, will be an all-school trip to a movie in either Powell or Worland.