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Carlynton students join together for anti-bullying program

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:31 p.m.
Signal Item
Lucy Watson, 6, and Bailey Vetter, 6, both first-graders at Carnegie Elementary School, march around the track at Carlynton High School for an anti-bullying event. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
The Signal Item
A sign of the times at the Carlynton High School. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Signal Item
Students from Carlynton High School, Carnegie Elementary and Crafton Elementary schools march around the track at Carlynton High School for an anti-bullying event. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item

And to think some people thought the Olympics were over.

Granted, the events at Carlynton Junior-Senior High School on Friday didn't include throwing a javelin or running a 50-meter dash. They were more like kickball and darting under a parachute. But the spirit was the same.

On a sunny morning, hours after a pouring rain, the district brought together all of its more than 1,400 students for what it dubbed “Olympics Day,” celebrating the annual start of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

“I'm getting goosebumps,” said Lisa Rowley, a high school physical education teacher and the district's federal programs coordinator, surveying the football field where the students massed.

Akin to the international competition a couple of months ago in London — albeit with considerably smaller television ratings — the events opened with a parade of students around the school track.

Paced by a portion of the Golden Cougars marching band, classes presented colorful anti-bullying banners that sported slogans such as “Room 107 Draws Friends & Erases Bullies” and a frog-themed “Hop to it. Don't be a Bully.”

The students then broke into smaller groups of mixed grades and took part in a rotation of activities, including soccer, volleyball, face-painting and tattoos — all led by Carlynton juniors and seniors. Each group even learned part of a flash mob dance performed at Friday's football game.

“We hope the older kids and the younger kids make a friend today,” Rowley said. “When our sixth-graders come up to the junior-senior high, we hope they're more comfortable. We're trying to create a true community culture.”

That, as much as anything else, can help stem the silent problem of bullying. But the research-based Olweus program, developed in the 1980s by Norwegian Dan Olweus, plays a big part in guiding schools worldwide to eliminate behavior issues that, unchecked, can lead to more serious troubles.

Carlynton adopted the program last year, with teachers surveying students on bullying and developing a district-wide policy. Classes in lower grades up to freshmen also began meeting regularly to discuss prevention — sessions that will be more frequent this year.

“It's really to highlight what bullying is, what people can do to prevent it,” Superintendent Gary Peiffer said. “It addresses not just the victim, but the person who may be a bully, and more importantly, the bystanders and what you can do to help create a good middle school, high school experience.”

For at least one morning, that was the case.

“I like helping the young kids. It's fun seeing them grow up, and I know a lot of them because I used to work at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club,” said sophomore Tyree Johnson of Carnegie, adding that Olweus is making an impact so far.

“It was needed, and it helps. There were different groups, like Goth kids, jocks. Now, everybody's cool with each other.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dstefano@tribweb.com or 412-388-5816.

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