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Photo by Page Selby
St. Ambrose Catholic Elementary School eighth-grader Emily Selby, third from left, participates in the Worldwide March Against Bullying May 1 at the school in Godfrey.
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Photo by Page Selby
Students marched around the parking lot chanting songs to promote good character and bullying prevention.
GODFREY — St. Ambrose Catholic Elementary School in Godfrey participated in the Worldwide March Against Bullying last week, and had a great reason to celebrate as well — Mayor Mike McCormick declared May 1 “March Against Bullying Day.”
Students heard the official proclamation to kick off their march, then each class showed presentations and posters about their own lessons against bullying. Then they marched around the parking lot chanting songs to promote good character and bullying prevention. They enjoyed doughnuts after the march and later that day enjoyed a schoolwide picnic with games and inflatable activities.
McCormick said he was disappointed to have missed the event because of a previous engagement. He said bullying is “a very important issue …in media, in our school system, in our society; it’s a problem. I think it’s a problem that should be addressed on a daily basis, not just an annual basis.”
This is not the first year St. Ambrose has participated in anti-bullying efforts — the school has had an established anti-bullying program for several years. Page Selby, Bully Prevention Committee Chairman, said she found an opportunity to start the program through a grant with BJC Health Care a few years ago. Since then, it has become fully integrated into St. Ambrose’s school system. Students have bullying prevention education through character development and bonding as a school. Selby said the program is used to build awareness and bring the community together to “show kids that preventing bullying is a priority.” She has seen great success thus far — she says kindness, compassion and overall less bullying has been seen in St. Ambrose since the program started.
Selby’s daughter Emily, a St. Ambrose eighth-grader, has been a part of the prevention program from the beginning. She said bullying prevention efforts are a part of every week at St. Ambrose — for example, every Friday morning there is a schoolwide “Circles” meeting where students share feelings and help one another with problems. The student council also recently teamed up with the drama club to create a video about the importance of being considerate of other people’s feelings.
Sue Schmidt, principal at St. Ambrose, said they also emphasize character words each month such as “perseverance” and “empathy,” to show students in all grade levels good character traits. She said BJC sponsors a trainer to work with the seventh-grade students on bullying prevention once a month. Another important part of the prevention committee is a survey taken each school year that identifies the weaknesses and strengths of the school and its prevention efforts. They use this survey to develop the curriculum for the coming year.
“It’s an ongoing effort,” Schmidt said. “Every day we learn something different.”
Schmidt said the program has brought positive changes to St. Ambrose.
“I see improvement … kids are more apt to report when a student is being bullied,” Schmidt said.
Emily also says she has seen huge improvement since the beginning of the program.
“Since it started, I can see people pay attention to what upsets people,” Emily said. “I think everybody cares more about each other.”