The Neosho R-5 school district is taking a stand against bullying.

The Neosho R-5 school district is taking a stand against bullying.

This week, students from all grade levels have dressed in themes, watched videos or signed pledges to show their support for a bullying-free school district.

Tiffany Sanny, character coordinator for the district, said the anti-bullying week began three years ago, as a way to raise awareness among students in the district.

“The Neosho school district sees the importance of educating students about bullying and how to prevent it in our schools,” Sanny said. “If you don’t talk about it, nothing’s going to change.”

Anti-bullying week is held twice a year, once in the fall, and once in February.

The schools have varied in the way they each observe the week, though the same message has been delivered across the district.

“The theme is, Wildcats are strong, bullies don’t belong,” Sanny said.

Among elementary students the week’s activities have included watching videos about bullying, observing skits, and dressing in accordance with the theme of the day.

At the high school, students have also dressed in their own color themes, such as “wear pink, bullying stinks,” or “wear blue, bullying isn’t cool.”

The student group Students Against Violence Everyday (S.A.V.E.) has spearheaded the high school’s anti-bullying efforts. The group distributed pledges, urging students to sign their names promising that they would not tolerate bullying.

Joanne Slama, freshman counselor, said that as of Wednesday the group had collected more than 400 signed pledges.

“We want to help kids find the courage to stand up and take action when they see bullying,” Slama said.

She said students have also watched videos, including those of students who have overcome being bullied, and have been greeted each day by warnings written in chalk on the sidewalk, such as “bullying stops here.”

Slama said the S.A.V.E. organization offers students a place to belong, and a place to join with others in their desire to create a kind atmosphere.

“We have a lot of kids that feel passionate about making Neosho a better place, a kinder place, and more welcoming,” Slama said.

Laney Valentine, president of the S.A.V.E club, said anti-bullying week is not the only effort the group is participating in this semester.

She said the organization has planned an anti-bullying presentation for December, and hope to have an official there to speak on the topic of cyber-bullying as well.

Slama said the club would be teaming up with the school’s student council to hold the presentation.
Valentine said it is a good feeling to see her fellow students wearing the anti-bullying color of the day or signing the pledge.

“I think the students participating or at least acknowledging it exists are taking a step toward stopping it and making people aware,” Valentine said.

The district’s bi-annual focus on bullying awareness and prevention has earned them recognition, having received the Character Education Partnership’s Promising Practices Award for their 2011 anti-bullying weeks.

Sanny said the difference in students is obvious since the anti-bullying weeks have begun, though the work is an ongoing process.

“It hasn’t eliminated bullying, but it has definitely helped,” Sanny said.

The week will wrap up with a Character Carnival, scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the field located between the tennis courts and the junior high school, on the NHS campus.

The carnival will feature booths from each school, relating to one of the district’s 12 character words.
Sanny said Carver Elementary will focus on the value of integrity and will offer an “integrity toss.”

Slama said the NHS S.A.V.E Club will host a booth with colored hairspray, with the theme, “show us your true character colors.”

The carnival will also offer prizes and the Watch Dog Dads group will be cooking up free hot dogs for attendees.