School district promotes anti-bullying strategies for youth

Students at Lake City Secondary School’s two campuses are being encouraged to participate in Pink T-Shirt Day on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Students at Lake City Secondary School’s two campuses are being encouraged to participate in Pink T-Shirt Day on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Columneetza campus leadership teacher Ryan Hanley said students from his class went around the school on Monday to talk to classes about how the day was started.

“I think every school has its issues with bullying,” Hanley said. “We feel our school is taking positive steps every year, but to say bullying is gone would be naive.”

When secondary school students dabble with social media, they sometimes rediscover bullying habits that have paled, he added.

“They can say things so quickly, press send and they cannot retract,” Hanley said.

Columneetza campus teacher Mike Wilson who heads up the school’s Be the Change Club said when the club attend a We Day event they met Travis Price who along with David Shepherd organized the first Pink Shirt Day in Nova Scotia in 2007.

“Their message spread through social media that they had purchased 50 pink shirts at a thrift store and the entire school ended up wearing pink that year,” Wilson said.

While neither campus is organizing events for the day, other than encouraging students to wear pink, both schools have been trying to create positive environments.

At Lake City Secondary School there is a large Love Your #Selfie poster where students can post positive messages about themselves.

At Columneetza, the counsellors and administration started the “Why You’re Awesome” program to both recognize and promote positive behaviour within the school.

“Counsellor Jen Ives from the senior campus provided us with a form to use and teachers and support staff are encouraged to nominate students for positive behaviours such as helping someone, demonstrating leadership, improved performance, thoughtful contribution to class, excellent work/work habits, or making our school a better place to be,” counsellor Tara Burtenshaw said.

Every Friday, counsellors go around door to door and announce the nominees.

“We also do a draw and four students a week win a pizza token that was made by our Tech Ed teacher Nick McDonald using the 3D printers.”

Burtenshaw said she feels the program has had a positive impact.  “The students are always respectful and have been genuinely happy for those who have been nominated,” she said. “ We have been running the program for several months now and usually have a minimum of 20 nominees per week.”

The program has allowed the staff to celebrate personal and social responsibility within the school. “It has become my favourite part of the week,” she added.