Tyrone students take on 30-day anti-bullying challenge

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published March 25, 2015

 Shelby Benbow and Shamira Sinclair are leading the way in an anti-bullying challenge at Tyrone Elementary.

Shelby Benbow and Shamira Sinclair are leading the way in an anti-bullying challenge at Tyrone Elementary.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

HARPER WOODS — Tyrone students have challenged themselves to go 30 days without bullying behavior thanks to two students who wanted to make a difference.

The idea began after an anti-bullying assembly at the school. The principal and teachers decided to host the assembly after noticing an uptick in detentions for bullying behavior, mostly due to name-calling.

Students were “just not being respectful of other people’s feelings,” Tyrone Principal Cheryl Puzdrakiewicz said.

The assembly was aimed at teaching students lessons like “we need to use our words to heal, not hurt.”

“It’s the teasing,” she said. “They just sometimes don’t get the fact that words hurt.”

The faculty showed some videos about bullying during the recent assembly, and emotions in the room ran high. Some students and staff were brought to tears.

After the assembly, two fifth-grade students caught Puzdrakiewicz in the hall and told her they needed to speak to her. Shelby Benbow and Shamira Sinclair had an idea to take action against bullying; that idea was the 30-day challenge.

One of the girls had recently read a book about gossiping in which there is a 30-day challenge not to gossip. She thought that would be great for the bullying issue at the school.

“There’s been too (much) bullying going around,” Benbow said. “We decided if we could go 30 days without doing it, it might change the way they act.”

“We were actually pretty tired of the bullying,” Sinclair said. “It happens mostly every day.”

Puzdrakiewicz said she loved the idea, as well.

“It was cool that this was student-driven,” she said.  “I was walking in the hallway and they were like, ‘Can we talk to you for a minute?’’’

The grade levels that complete the challenge successfully will earn a reward. The school launched the challenge last week.

“We’re really trying to change some behaviors,” Puzdrakiewicz said.

One thing she noticed in the first couple of days of the challenge was that students were being more vocal about hurtful behavior.

“The bystanders aren’t just sitting by quietly,” she said, adding that they’ve been using a “safe box” to leave notes about problem behavior.

“We have a lot of ways that they can report bullying,” she said.