Martinez Students Prepared to Stand Up to Bullying
A. Vito Martinez Middle School in Romeoville. But if he does, he’s prepared to do what he can to stop it.
After watching a brief video, called “Dare to be Different,” Martinez students discussed bullying with their teachers and were encouraged to distribute “Stop Bullying Now” bucks to fellow students who were caught in the act of doing something good. The bucks, printed on pink paper, could be used to “purchase” a variety of school supplies and snacks at the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports store.
Boots explained how the bucks work.
“You give them to someone who’s nice, who’s acting like a Valiant Viking,” he said. The school mascot is a Viking, and anyone who attends Martinez knows what a Valiant Viking is.
“It’s someone who is being respectful, being responsible and having good relationships—not bullying and stuff,” Boots said.
Fellow sixth-grader Etni Sorianoll was looking forward to giving a buck to someone who, for instance, helped a classmate with a jammed locker or picked up books that a fellow student had dropped. She said the message of the video is to make a difference and stop bullying.
“If you see someone who is really, really sad, looking down and bummed out, go up to them and say, ‘Are you OK?’” If the student is being bullied, a teacher or other staff person is always nearby to intervene.
Student teacher Jared Durdun told his classes that he was bullied as a kid.
“I was overweight in middle school,” he said. “I got picked on. Often. I felt that I had nowhere to go in my school for help. We want to make sure you know there’s always someone to go to.”
History teacher Elizabeth Stephens emphasized the importance of placing adults strategically throughout the halls during passing periods to help prevent bullying.
“I feel like we’ve been very effective,” she said, crediting school counselor Mimi Taylor with establishing expectations for positive behavior early in the school year. “Without a doubt, we’re being proactive,” she added, citing meetings for parents, as well as staff meetings and teacher training that focus on the warning signs of bullying.
Other attempts to discourage bullying and encourage positive behavior include messages like “Give up gossiping” on classroom doors and posters declaring the hallways a “No Bully Zone.”
According to a press release from Valley View School District 365U, the Feb. 25 event was a precursor for a much larger week-long district-wide anti-bullying effort planned for November.