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Royal Oak

February 27, 2013

ROMS stands up to prevent bullying

New program adopted to help empower students

ROYAL OAK — The Royal Oak Middle School community took a step toward becoming a safer and more positive environment this month by adopting the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

Following an informational session with parents Feb. 11, ROMS staff met with students Feb. 15 and began a 16-lesson weekly cycle Feb. 18 to help educate everyone on signs of bullying, types of bullying and why it’s important to stand up and speak out when bullying occurs.

“We chose a program that is research-based and has an excellent reputation,” Principal Zoe Marcus said. “It is considered … the gold standard for school districts. Every single teacher at Royal Oak Middle School has been trained in the Olweus program.”

Marcus said the program begins with a committee of educators learning about the program and then having those educators meet with other staff members and parents to spread that message so it is consistently taught to students.

“The most important thing our students will be learning is to watch out for each other, to speak up if they see bullying,” Marcus said. “Students know that we’re really not alone. We’re doing this as a group, as a team. It really empowers students to move from that bystander position to move to a power position.”

The weekly lessons will take about 40 minutes per week during each student’s Learning Enrichment Advancement Principles (LEAP) period time, which also rotates between math and reading lessons.

“It’s not taking away from any class time or anything,” Marcus said. “One of the goals is to make a better learning environment. These are also things we’re teaching they can take into life.”

Marcus said ROMS and the district have always been proponents of anti-bullying, but the Olweus program should help unify that message by empowering the students’ role. She said she is glad her school is the first in the district to try out the program.

“We are the only school in our district that is embarking in the program,” Marcus said. “Every building does have a positive-behavior program.

“We’ve been working very, very hard. I think that the middle school already has in place really great things in terms of anti-bully and bully awareness. We’re excited to do this.”

Following the Feb. 15 assembly, Marcus said students were similarly excited about the program.

“We talked about the key messages Olweus wants us to learn,” Marcus said. “The assembly itself was an important thing to (let everyone) know we kicked off the program. They just really felt at home at school and that’s what we want.”

For parents who missed the Feb. 11 gathering featuring Dr. Marlene Seltzer of Beaumont Hospital’s No Bullying Live Empowered (NOBLE) program, the PowerPoint slideshow is available at www.royaloakschools.com/portal/node/50498.

For more information about the program or ways to become involved, contact ROMS Olweus program chairwoman Kathy Knapp at Knappk@royaloakschools.com.