Eastover Eagles say no to bullying

By: Robin Ruehlen | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 13, 2013

 Eastover Elementary School students raise their hands to answer questions about bullying and the lessons they learned throughout the week.

Eastover Elementary School students raise their hands to answer questions about bullying and the lessons they learned throughout the week.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Following a weeklong antibullying campaign at Eastover Elementary School, the students took away this important message: If you see someone being bullied, don’t just be a bystander. Be a buddy, stand up and help make it right.

The antibullying awareness campaign, which began Nov. 4, was meant to be just the start of an ongoing effort to promote positive relationships and foster a safe and healthy environment from kindergarten on up. On Nov. 6, the entire school was treated to a special assembly with Paws from the Detroit Tigers and a live performance by local pop-rock band Stereo Jane, created by Bloomfield Hills High School sisters Sydney and Emilia Schmier.

“Raise your hand if you’ve learned how to be nicer to your friends,” said Eastover social worker Wendy Olah, to the sea of cheering students.

“You have all promised not to bully, to ‘soar’ in friendship and to stick up for anyone who is not being respected.”

At Eastover, S.O.A.R. stands for Self-control, On-task, Acceptance and Respect. This includes not telling secrets or spreading rumors, comforting others, including everyone, accepting each other’s differences, forgiving, having good manners, helping and sharing.

In addition to a poster contest, Eastover fourth-graders performed a bullying play in each classroom. Students were encouraged to join the new Courageous Club to take a stand, and parents were invited to participate in the Bully-Proof Parent Workshop.

Stereo Jane vocalist Sydney Schmier told the students she wrote the song “Sing It” when she was only a little older than they are.

“I wrote it because you need to know how to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Don’t just be a bystander,” she said. Students viewed the video of “Sing It” and were surprised by the live version and several more songs by Stereo Jane, as well as dancing with Paws.

Fourth-grader Erin Williams said that although she has never seen a fellow student being bullied at Eastover, she now knows what to do if she witnesses someone treating another person unkindly.

“I would definitely stand up and say, ‘We don’t treat people like that at our school,’” she said.

“We all ‘soar,’ and we always follow the rules about being kind to each other. I think everyone here tries to be a good example.”

According to nonprofit organization Champions Against Bullying, a bystander is a person who watches bullying occur and may even feel uncomfortable, but does nothing. A bystander can also be someone who ignores what’s happening, or even encourages the bully by cheering or laughing at the victim.

Fourth-grader Ben Bower said he learned that it’s important for kids to not only avoid bullying behavior, but to never encourage a bully or to take the bully’s side, and fourth-grader Morgan Nimmo said she has personally experienced bullying.

“I would ask other kids, ‘How would you feel if you were bullied?’” she said. “What makes Eastover great is that they always make sure we’re following the rules and treating everyone with respect.”