This week is the Olweus Program Anti-Bullying week at all North Putnam School Corporation schools, and Roachdale Elementary was the first class to kick off the event with a video, choir performances and a guest appearance from North Putnam's mascot, Charlie Cougar.
School counselor Dan McMurtry said a few words about bullying after the North Putnam mixed choir performed three songs: "Respect," "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent and "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.
"Bullying is when someone with more power hurts you in one of several different ways," McMurtry said.
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, created at Clemson University, is a comprehensive school-wide program designed for use in elementary, middle or junior high schools. The program's intent is to help empower the bullied and those who see bullying take place. The schools in the district are keeping students interested in the program in different ways, including dress-up days and competitions.
Other schools in the area use the program, including Greencastle High School and schools in Brownsburg and Elkhart. This is the first year the corporation is using the program. Mary Sugg Lovejoy, superintendent for the corporation, said the program was accepted because of an increase in bullying reports and a drive to be proactive about the problem.
Every staff member had to be trained in the Olweus program from bus drivers to lunch ladies, said Scott Spencer, Roachdale Elementary principal. During McMurtry's address, the supervising teachers and other staff members removed their shirts to reveal a brown shirt that called for an end to bullying in Roachdale Elementary.
"It starts here and it continues to grow," McMurtry said.
The kids were also treated to a performance from Joseph Lenihan, a Greencastle High School senior and son of kindergarten teacher Valerie Lenihan. Joseph Lenihan sang "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers.
After Joseph Lenihan's performance, Spencer addressed the students and showed them an anti-bullying video. He said he believes Roachdale students as a whole treat each other with respect, but sometimes people need a reminder on how to act towards one another.
"Sometimes we forget how easy it is to say the right thing," Spencer said.
After the assembly ended, students received a free pencil, and they will receive other items throughout the week such as Colts posters and basketballs. Combined with the signs, posted anti-bullying rules and dress-up days throughout the week, students may not forget the lessons learned.
"Roachdale Elementary has done a good job. But we all forget sometimes," Spencer said.
Each school is having a kickoff event to celebrate the Olweus program at the beginning of the school day. North Putnam Middle School will have their event Wednesday morning, North Putnam High School's will take place on Thursday morning, and Bainbridge Elementary's will take place on Friday morning.