Olweus Anti-bullying Program Kickoff

Olweus Anti-bullying Program Kickoff

“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 Woodland, the Olweus team anchored its kick-off event with the song “This is me” and decorated the gymnasium with large banners featuring the Olweus Pledge.

olweus kickoff

Woodland’s Principal Beth Swanson opened and closed the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 23rd reminding the students to be kind and caring in their friendships at school. “New Year; New Promises,” was the theme of the event.

olweus kickoff

Woodland teachers acted out a skit about bullying and excluding another from a game with the “popular” kids.

olweus kickoff

Representatives from each grade at Woodland led the student body in the “Kindness Pledge” at the Olweus kick-off, signing the words as they recited.

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

Parent List of Books Aligned with Olweus