Viruses, when not addressed, spread. They choke out the good things and foster the bad.
So Coventry Middle School is dealing with them.
Viruses such as lying, cheating and bullying are being knocked out with a healthy dose of love and support. And that’s an effort worth spreading.
Area educators attended an “Anti-Virus Edge” promotional event at Coventry Middle School on March 14. Coventry personnel shared their success with the nationwide Anti-Virus program.
“We were looking for some kind of leadership program,” said program adviser Richard Dudley. “When I saw the book it was obvious that it was what we needed.”
The program works on principles and values.
“We think this is important for all students so we would like to see it in other schools. That is why we have invited other schools here,” said mentor Bruce Lyman.
About 90 eighth-graders are participating in the program this school year at Coventry Middle School. Mentor John Murray and Lyman work with the students during lunch periods.
The program is character-based. The “virus” part is bad behavior, or corruption as it is sometimes referred to. The program explains that the corrupt behavior is all around us and its impact is causing problems in society. In the nine-week program, “viruses” such as lying, cheating, bullying, irresponsibility, smoking, addictions, wasting time, bad examples, violence, drugs and much more are addressed.
Mentors share the answer, the “Anti-Virus,” which fights bad behavior. Students must become an active agent to combat the virus’s power by living with character.
The curriculum focuses on seven main character traits, which are ambition, responsibility, hard work, emotions, restraint, common sense and generosity.
Tina Norris, Coventry Middle School principal, has seen the program make a difference.
“I think it has helped the teachers gain a greater understanding of individual students and perhaps how to motivate them and provide encouragement for them.”
Three eighth-grade students spoke to educators about their experience with the Anti-Virus program.
“For me, it has been a really good way to get to know people that aren’t the usual people I would talk to,” Riley Frank said. “It is nice to have people standing up with you.”
Frank used an example of being in English class and hearing other students making fun of you.
“It is nice that others are telling the person it is not right and standing up for you,” she said.
Ben Woodill said the ambitions and goals of Anti-Virus are really great.
“They want you to be able to be a true leader with good intentions, good mind and how to handle different situations,” he said. “It gives you good mentors and you have to think how you can be like them and how to change to be like them. I think I have grown a lot.”
Page 2 of 2 - “It is amazing how being nice to just one person can brighten their day,” Mara Kaylor added. “The program has made me think about other people’s feelings. How words do actually hurt people. It made me change who I am and stick up for others more. I really liked it and I think we can do more.”
Author of the program, Tanya Miller spoke saying that she goes into the Tuscarawas County schools to teach and mentor with the program. They found Anti-Virus works well with the Social Studies curriculum.
“Our passion is to use the program to come in and impact grade levels,” Miller said. “In April we have 720 students in Palm Beach County school system in Florida that we will be working with. They are high risk students with 600 gang members.
“Teachers want to bring in character training, but schools are looking at focusing on test scores. We bring in an outside mentor with a fresh perspective giving the teachers time to focus on the testing,” Miller said.
Norris said the students seem to be more mindful of how they treat one and other and how they approach different situations.
“It is a change from how they might have done that previously,” Norris said. “It has been an amazing opportunity for the kids to connect with an adult and be able to establish a relationship that is not built around academics. It is built around supporting them and their developmental needs.”
Those involved with the program said it is about self-government and how to make life work.
For more information on the Anti-Virus program, visit www.antivirusyouth.com.