Elementary students put a ‘monster’ dent in bullying

Grave Digger visits Upton, students do graffiti for good cause

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published March 14, 2012

 A group of Upton students poses with driver Charlie Pauken in front of the Grave Digger monster truck March 2 during an anti-bullying gathering in Royal Oak. The students also got a chance to spray-paint anti-bullying messages on a car that was then smashed March 3 during a Monster Jam rally at Ford Field.

A group of Upton students poses with driver Charlie Pauken in front of the Grave Digger monster truck March 2 during an anti-bullying gathering in Royal Oak. The students also got a chance to spray-paint anti-bullying messages on a car that was then smashed March 3 during a Monster Jam rally at Ford Field.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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ROYAL OAK — Students at Upton Elementary School “crushed” bullying earlier this month with a little help from a famous monster truck.

The Grave Digger monster truck pulled into Upton’s parking lot March 2 and driver Charlie Pauken spoke with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students about anti-bullying during the Monster Jam Crush Bullying assembly.

“It’s not every day you have a monster truck at your school,” Upton Principal John Grzywack said.

Grzywack said Pauken and a “Kids Empowered!” presentation taught students how to handle bullying.

“We are working on bringing a program in through the whole district. We’re still working on developing that,” Grzywack said. “Essentially, being able to identify what bullying is, what it looks like.

“We’re working more on the positive part. We’re trying to be proactive more than reactive.”

Upton has two acronyms that form both a lesson and a weekly rewards program for good behavior: PBIS (Positive Behavior Interactions and Supports) and ROCKStar (Responsibilities Open-mindedness Cooperation Kindness Self-control).

“I don’t ignore any issues. If it’s an issue for them, then I work with them and the other students,” Grzywack said. “We’re trying to really focus on the positive and what they can do here.

“We need to start at a young age. Students need to understand what it means and how it’s handled. We know, if these kids are involved in schools, they’ll be better students and better behaved.”

To get the students involved in the monster truck visit, 12 were chosen — one boy and girl from each class — to spray-paint a spectrum of anti-bullying messages like “Crush out bullying” and “Namecalling” and even smiley faces on a Grand Am that was crushed the following night during a Monster Jam event at Ford Field in Detroit.

“I think it was cool because all the bad stuff got smashed and other people (were) seeing that they shouldn’t say it,” said fourth-grader Aanyah Watson.

All 12 students involved in the spray-painting were given four tickets each to attend the monster truck rally in Detroit and see the Upton-painted Grand Am symbolically smashed first hand.

Third-grader Jacob Valentine said he’ll remember the lesson he learned about dealing with bullies.

“Say, ‘I don’t like what you say,’ stop and walk away and, if they keep doing it, tell a teacher,” Valentine said.

 

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