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The Suburbanite
  • Students form friendships, learn about bullying through school program

  • Fourth, fifth and sixth graders and staff members of Schrop Intermediate School connected to learn about the important aspects of friendship. OSCAR day, Our School Connects and Respects, was designed by staff members as a time students and staff participate together to discuss topics such as friendship and bullying.

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  • Fourth, fifth and sixth graders and staff members of Schrop Intermediate School connected to learn about the important aspects of friendship.
    OSCAR day, Our School Connects and Respects, was designed by staff members as a time students and staff participate together to discuss topics such as friendship and bullying.
    The name OSCAR was chosen by Schrop students. School counselor Kerri Franks was the facilitator for the program and said that all full-time staff members participated, including medical assistants, the principal, teachers and the dean of students. Students were set up in groups of 10 to 13 and assigned to a staff member other than their current teacher. The goal of the program was for students to have another trusted adult at school other than teachers with which they spend each day.
    Franks said Schrop students were divided into groups that mixed boys, girls and grade levels.
    “It is a time that a group of students can see staff members in a totally different way other than a classroom setting. It is all about learning how to be a group member within the bigger school community and how we connect with each other,” she said.  
    The OSCAR program was developed after the staff read the book, “Teaching with Poverty in Mind,” by Eric Jensen.
    “The idea behind OSCAR is to connect every student to an adult who will be there for that child during the three years the child is at Schrop,” said Principal Lisa Vardon. “The program also helps to connect students from other grade levels to each other.”
    This is the first year for the OSCAR program, and last month’s theme was friendship. Each group talked about what it takes to be a good friend and how to get along with others.
    “It is about connecting and respecting each other within the school community,” Franks said. “The title fits it perfectly, learning how to get along with other people and having another trusted adult is huge.”
    Franks said research shows how important it is that children have trusted adults in their extended family, the outside community, church or different groups such Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
    “Within the school setting, we wanted them to have someone that they could go to, that they have connected with and have learned to trust,” she said. “It is one more person that can say, ‘It is OK, you can make it, you can do this,’ it is extra support and encouragement for the students.”
    For the teachers and staff members, it is a different type of school day filled with activities centering on a theme. Franks said they are working with 40 developmental assets, because research shows the higher the number of assets a student has, the more likely he or she is to be successful.
    Page 2 of 2 - “They will gain positive assets that will help them to be a successful person,” she said.  
    Students worked together in their groups to make team banners about friendship, which will hang in the cafeteria where students and staff members can see the ideas that each team discussed.
    “We have been talking about what people can bring to a friendship, what it takes to be a good friend and what it takes to make good friends,” Franks said.  
    Future programs will include the subject of bullying. Franks said that the hope is that building strengths and connections through friendships and learning respect for others will cut down on bullying.
    “There have always been bullies, but today students deal with the problem 24/7, because it continues after they are home, through texting and cyber bullying,” Franks said. “We are working to give the students strategies to manage disagreements and for targets to learn to stand up to bullies.”
    Vardon said the response from students and staff has been positive.
    “We have had two OSCAR days so far...Almost every single day, a student will walk by me in the hallway and ask me, ‘When are we having another OSCAR day?’” Vardon said.