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Brentwood students work to stop bullies in their tracks

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Members of Elroy Elementary School’s after-school anti-bullying group show off the quilt that they made this year to spark awareness and increase the anti-bullying message in their school.

A young boy pushes a classmate to the ground. Another student trips someone in the stairwell. Girls shove each other in the bathroom.

Yet, in each instance, there is one student who steps in to intervene and stop the bullying. That student extends a hand to the classmate on the ground and stops the pushing.

The bystander makes a difference.

A video created by students in the first-year after-school bullying-prevention program at Moore Elementary School, along with the help of Brentwood High senior Connor Kelly, helps to raise awareness of the need for student support in these situations, leaders said.

The 22 Moore and 27 Elroy students who participated in the newly formed program at their respective schools this year said they thought the projects — such as making T-shirts, a video, a quilt and posters — helped put a halt to bullying in their schools.

“I felt like we were going to stop bullying from the school, and there would be no more bullies in the school, and we wouldn't have to worry about it anymore,” said Elroy third-grader Josh Piccolo, 9.

Brentwood elementary students said they mostly witness bullying in the form of verbal comments or exclusion.

District administrators in the 2010-11 school year implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which uses classroom meetings among peers and schoolwide support and is even geared to reach into the community to reduce the number of bullying and peer conflict incidents in the schools.

“I really think it works,” said Brentwood High School freshman Abbey Myers, 14, who is one of three high school students that helped to oversee the elementary after-school program.

The after-school program was launched in April at both Moore and Elroy as a way to boost awareness of bullying issues and prevention in the schools, social worker Kelly Donaldson said.

The third- to fifth-graders met every Thursday since, until the end of the school year, for about 40 minutes.

Their motto was simple: “Leave the bullying to the bulls, not the humans.” They sketched posters of a large bull with an “X” across its face and designed T-shirts to show that bullying is not civilized.

“The kids that voluntarily came to this group have some kind of passion to bring more awareness to this,” Donaldson said.

“I joined it so I could try to stop it,” said fourth-grader Hannah Starek, 9.

The program is working, students said.

“I was surprised how many kids agreed that bullying was bad,” Myers said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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