Olweus Anti-bullying Program Kickoff

Olweus Anti-bullying Program Kickoff
Posted on 02/12/2020

“Nice shoes,” one student said sarcastically to another who cringed and hurried past. “I like my shoes,” another responded as he got the dig. When the bully pronounced the same judgement on a third student passerby, an “upstander” student stepped in to support the victim.

Did this happen in our schools? Yes, it did - as part of a skit designed to heighten awareness about bullying. Each of Hicksville’s elementary schools launched a new anti-bullying program in January 2020 - Olweus - to educate students about the harmful nature of bullying behaviors and, more importantly, to provide the tools students need to address situations in which they could become involved.

The Olweus Bully Prevention Program is a universal, school-wide effort involving all adults and students in a school. It is designed to be implemented and sustained over time to change school climate and social norms. The program is evidence-based and supported by a large body of research. Olweus was introduced to the district by Mr. Anthony Lubrano, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and with the full support of the Board of Education, especially Vice President Brenda Judson. “The Olweus program seeks to include everyone who has an impact on a child’s life - school, classroom, individual, community and parents,” explained Mr. Lubrano.

Olweus New York State Leader and Olweus Technical Consultant, Joanne Verdino began working with the Hicksville Public Schools this past summer. She met with the Principals to familiarize them with the program and prepare for implementation. “I’m a licensed clinical social worker who worked as a school social worker for 35 years,” shared Mrs. Verdino. She implemented the Olweus program in Jericho Middle School in 2012. Mrs. Verdino guided Hicksville’s Principals to select a committee of staff members from their school, known as the Bully Prevention Coordinating Committee (BPCC), who would be responsible to turn-key train all school staff members. Each BPCC meets regularly and Mrs. Verdino meets with the Principals each month for consultation and to support their continued program implementation.

During the month of January, each Principal and BPCC implemented kick-off assemblies to introduce the Olweus program to elementary students. Each school picked a theme to launch their program, and teachers wrote new lyrics to familiar songs so the entire school could sing-along about kindness and empathy. Student council members, art teachers, and the PTA created banners to decorate the meeting rooms where the kick-off events were held, and generous PTAs and parents purchased and/or donated special tee shirts so each school was visually united for its kick-off.

Students and teachers wrote scenarios about bullying, such as being excluded from lunch tables and playground games, and acted out the scenes during the all-school assemblies.

During each event, students took a Kindness Pledge:

  1. We will not bully others.
  2. We will try to help students who are bullied.
  3. I will try to include students who are left out.
  4. If we know that somebody is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.

Regular, follow-up meetings with students are planned to reinforce the positive, supportive behaviors emphasized by the Olweus program. “Each of our schools has woven the program into the fabric of their school in a unique and personalized way,” explained Mrs. Verdino.

Parents can learn about the Olweus program, by accessing:http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/olweus_bullying_prevention_program.page.

They can initiate conversations with their children by asking about the class meetings they are having. “Parents can also encourage their children to be inclusive and kind to their classmates at school,” shared Mrs. Verdino. “It is important that they remind their children that they should share any concerns they have about issues related to bullying with their parents and their teachers.”

The District would like to acknowledge and thank Mrs. Verdino and the Olweus teams of administrators, teachers, staff, and parents who worked to create meaningful kick-off events in each of Hicksville’s elementary schools.

Included here are just a few images of the amazing all-school Olweus events that took place in January. 

Olweus Kickoff

At Lee Avenue, chorus students sang a song about kindness written by music teacher Mr. Frank Barbera. Readers can see a video of the performance by searching Twitter: @hps_lee.  

olweus kickoff

It took two years of collecting bottle caps, but art teacher Staci Kolinsky (left) worked with her students to create a “Bully Free Zone” sign in the style of artist Keith Haring for Lee Avenue. Principal Stephanie Stam is pictured here with the students’ “upcycled” materials sign at the Olweus kick-off on January 30th.

olweus kickoff

Lee Avenue students wrote and acted out a skit about how hurtful bullying can be to the victim at their kick-off event. The school created the “UnbeLEEvable Buddies Club” for fourth and fifth graders to help sustain the Olweus program. 

olweus kickoff

Fifth grade spokespersons from Lee Avenue Ashley and Tristan explained why the Olweus program is so important. “It’s good to teach others to treat others the way you want to be treated,” said Ashley. “It’s important for kids to know about this now so they can teach it to younger students as they get older,” agreed Tristan.

See the following list of reading materials to share with your children.

Parent List of Books Aligned with Olweus