With safety being a top concern for the Socorro Independent School District, educators in all schools are continuing anti-bullying efforts and have seen a decline in bullying issues.
The success can be attributed to the Olweus Bully Prevention Program, a nationally known program that has been used districtwide for several years. Designed for students in elementary, middle and high schools, it has been proven to prevent or reduce bullying in a school setting.
Each year, SISD schools find new ways to promote the program. There are assemblies, rallies, parades and community pizza nights.
The purpose of the program is to reinforce in the student’s mind that bullying isn’t acceptable under any circumstance, said Bert Sherwood, the Olweus campus coordinator for Paso del Norte School.
“The awareness certainly has increased and bullying has decreased,” said Sherwood, who plans to kick off Paso del Norte’s Olweus program in September.
Lujan-Chavez Elementary teachers and staff found a way to refresh the Olweus kickoff program on Aug. 21. They created a video using Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” but changing the lyrics to say, “I’m no bully.” The students loved seeing their teachers rapping and dancing.
”I think it is great what the teachers are doing to get the stop bullying message out,” said Sara Casillas, a 10-year-old student and cheerleader at Lujan-Chavez. “We all have to stand up when a bully is going after someone. We can’t be a bystander.”
After seeing the video and the response of the students, Principal Lilia Campoya smiled and applauded.
“Everyone worked together as a team,” Campoya said. “They all have done a great job. I am so proud of them.”
Sierra Vista also had a school-wide Olweus assembly on Aug. 18. Using Superheroes as the theme, teachers and administrators dressed up as Superman, Superwoman, Bat Girl and many other cartoon characters.
“Be a hero not a bully,” said Principal Christine De La Cruz, to her students.
Angely Correa, a first grader at Sierra Vista, said it’s not nice to be a bully.
Her teacher, Cecilia Murphy, is proud that her students understand the philosophy behind Olweus. During the past few years, she has seen bullying decrease.
“Olweus teaches them what bullying is,” Murphy said. “Kids before didn’t know anything about bullying. It was just accepted. Kids didn’t know what to do. That’s all changed for the better.”
Since the start of the new school year, SISD campuses have been reigniting the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to maintain a stop-bullying awareness among students, parents and the community.
At Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle School, the 2015-2016 Olweus rally featured numerous events. With “Clarke: We hit it out of the park” theme, students played games, cheered for their grade, and went wild when the Chihuahua’s mascot, Chico, showed up.
“We believe that if students work together as a team, there will be less time for bullying,” said Kyia Whiteman, one of the coordinators of the program.
Eighth-grader Paola De Lucio has been learning about bullying prevention in the Olweus program since she was in the first grade.
“I think it is important that kids know what’s going on in their school,” De Lucio said. “The school doesn’t tolerate any bullying.”
Other schools have celebrated special anti-bullying events, including:
SSG Manuel R. Puentes Middle School’s kick-off event that featured former city rep and El Paso Independent School District board member, Susie Byrd, who spoke to students about bullying prevention on Aug. 28; Benito Martinez Elementary had a pizza party with students, parents, administrators and staff on Sept. 3 at Peter Piper Pizza; and the Paso Del Norte Jaguars had a school-wide and community kick off on Sept. 9.
Upcoming Olweus Bullying Prevention events include:
•Socorro Middle School is having a weeklong celebration of Olweus through Sept. 11. Students are wearing crazy socks, putting on their favorite team jersey and dressing up as their favorite super hero. On Sept. 11, students will be wearing their “Be A Bulldog, Not a Bully” Anti-Bullying T-shirts, which were designed by sixth-grader Valerie Arellano.
•Sgt. Roberto Ituarte is celebrating its Olweus program kick off with a patriotic theme from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Sept. 11. The event also will include a 9/11 tribute and will feature the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball team mascot Chico and El Dorado High School’s mascot Moctezuma.
•Sun Ridge Middle will host its first Olweus anti-bullying kick-off and car show from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 12 at the school.