All schools deal with the issue of bullying. The Hamilton School District is taking proactive steps to stop and prevent bullying by adopting the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This research-based school wide “systems-change” program has been used successfully in schools all over the country and around the world with positive results. At Hamilton schools the program will be for grades one through eight.
“I’m really excited to bring the Olweus Bullying-Prevention Program into Hamilton Middle School,” said Dan Kimzey, HMS Principal, “not just because it is considered the Gold Standard among bullying-prevention programs, but because it gives our K8 students, staff, and parents a common language and common strategies in dealing with peer abuse and relational aggression.”
Implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is a long-term commitment to making HSD3 a safer, more positive place to be. The implementation time-line includes training of staff, teachers, community, parents and students.
“The need for bullying prevention clearly transcends school buildings and is truly a community-wide initiative,” said Kimzey. “Our hope is that this ongoing project helps us to continue to strengthen ties among the school and community.”
“Support, Report, Defend” is the slogan the HMS students have created to define and describe this anti-bullying program.
Parent Night will be February 4 at 6 p.m. in the HMS Auditorium (dinner at 6:30 p.m.) with child care provided by the Keystone After School Program.
HSD3 will be reaching out to make the training available for businesses and community members also.
Thursday, February 7th is the kick-off date for students, featuring speaker Joel Brantley. The program will be launched in two sessions: 10 a.m. – grades 5-8 in the HMS Gym, and 1 p.m. – grades 1-4 (Grantsdale, Washington & Daly) in the HHS PAC.
Contributions to purchase the Olweus program have come from grants and donations from Town Pump Food Stores, First Interstate Bank, Hamilton PTA, Hamilton Parent Advisory Committee/Families for Education, Bitterroot Drug, Big Sky Eye Care, Rapp Family Foundation, Hamilton Graduation Matters, Hamilton School District #3, and several private contributors.
“I’m very pleased with the amount of financial support from local businesses and community members through grants and contributions, which has allowed us to purchase the program materials and professional development necessary to implement it,” said Kimzey.
This is an on-going program that is a coordinated effort by all the adults in the school to supervise and intervene when any bullying happens.
As part of the program, students participate in weekly class meetings to learn about the effects of bullying, what they can do about it, and how they can work with adults at school to put a stop to it even as bystanders. Parents will have meetings, too, so they can support the messages students are getting in school.
Other activities include puppet shows which are being presented on Friday, January 25 to grades 2-5. Hamilton Middle School students made sock puppets and will present the Olweus program as a puppet show for the younger kids. In addition, the middle schoolers have designed a logo which should be out soon.
For more information about the program and/or ways to become involved, contact program coordinators Vickie Dickerson, 363-2121; Matt Yaskus, 363-2122; or Angela Dondero, 369-1889.