Olweus Anti-bullying Program

Olweus Anti-bullying Program
Posted on 02/12/2020

“Nice shoes,” one student said sarcastically to another who cringed and hurried past. “I like my shoes,” another responded as he got the dig. When the bully pronounced the same judgement on a third student passerby, an “upstander” student stepped in to support the victim.

Did this happen in our schools? Yes, it did - as part of a skit designed to heighten awareness about bullying. Each of Hicksville’s elementary schools launched a new anti-bullying program in January 2020 - Olweus - to educate students about the harmful nature of bullying behaviors and, more importantly, to provide the tools students need to address situations in which they could become involved.

The Olweus Bully Prevention Program is a universal, school-wide effort involving all adults and students in a school. It is designed to be implemented and sustained over time to change school climate and social norms. The program is evidence-based and supported by a large body of research. Olweus was introduced to the district by Mr. Anthony Lubrano, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and with the full support of the Board of Education, especially Vice President Brenda Judson. “The Olweus program seeks to include everyone who has an impact on a child’s life - school, classroom, individual, community and parents,” explained Mr. Lubrano.

Olweus New York State Leader and Olweus Technical Consultant, Joanne Verdino began working with the Hicksville Public Schools this past summer. She met with the Principals to familiarize them with the program and prepare for implementation. “I’m a licensed clinical social worker who worked as a school social worker for 35 years,” shared Mrs. Verdino. She implemented the Olweus program in Jericho Middle School in 2012. Mrs. Verdino guided Hicksville’s Principals to select a committee of staff members from their school, known as the Bully Prevention Coordinating Committee (BPCC), who would be responsible to turn-key train all school staff members. Each BPCC meets regularly and Mrs. Verdino meets with the Principals each month for consultation and to support their continued program implementation.

During the month of January, each Principal and BPCC implemented kick-off assemblies to introduce the Olweus program to elementary students. Each school picked a theme to launch their program, and teachers wrote new lyrics to familiar songs so the entire school could sing-along about kindness and empathy. Student council members, art teachers, and the PTA created banners to decorate the meeting rooms where the kick-off events were held, and generous PTAs and parents purchased and/or donated special tee shirts so each school was visually united for its kick-off.

Students and teachers wrote scenarios about bullying, such as being excluded from lunch tables and playground games, and acted out the scenes during the all-school assemblies.

During each event, students took a Kindness Pledge:

  1. We will not bully others.
  2. We will try to help students who are bullied.
  3. I will try to include students who are left out.
  4. If we know that somebody is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.

Regular, follow-up meetings with students are planned to reinforce the positive, supportive behaviors emphasized by the Olweus program. “Each of our schools has woven the program into the fabric of their school in a unique and personalized way,” explained Mrs. Verdino.

Parents can learn about the Olweus program, by accessing: http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/olweus_bullying_prevention_program.page.

They can initiate conversations with their children by asking about the class meetings they are having. “Parents can also encourage their children to be inclusive and kind to their classmates at school,” shared Mrs. Verdino. “It is important that they remind their children that they should share any concerns they have about issues related to bullying with their parents and their teachers.”

The District would like to acknowledge and thank Mrs. Verdino and the Olweus teams of administrators, teachers, staff, and parents who worked to create meaningful kick-off events in each of Hicksville’s elementary schools.

Included here are just a few images of the amazing all-school Olweus events that took place in January. 

Olweus Kickoff Burns

At Burns Avenue Elementary, Principal Dr. John Comer took a moment for a photo op with his students wearing their “Kindness connects us” tee shirts before the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 24th. Many thanks to the generous parent who donated the “Kindness” shirts for the entire school! 

Olweus Kickoff Burns

At Burns, Student Council members cheered on students as they arrived at the kick-off event.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

Teachers acted out a skit to demonstrate how “bystanders” can become “upstanders” by telling an adult what they witnessed.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

The entire school got together for a photo at the close of Burns’ Olweus kick-off event. All students also received kindness wristbands.

OLWEUS Kickoff

At Dutch Lane, Principal Janine Rossi (left) and members of the Student Council, who performed a “Kindness” rap at the school’s kick-off event on January 17th.

OLWEUS Kickoff

Dutch Lane teachers (left to right) Mr. Ron Modik, Ms. Michelle Dodenhoff, and Ms. Jennifer Cody performed an anti-bullying skit at their school’s Olweus kick-off event based on characters in the book “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry and Tom Litchenheld.

OLWEUS Kickoff

Each student at Dutch Lane wrote an act of kindness on a strip of construction paper to form links that when stapled together formed a chain that stretched the entire length of the school’s gym.

OLWEUS Kickoff

Dutch Lane students each took turns having his/her photo taken as they became the “I” in a giant “Kind” bulletin board in the school’s front hall.

OLweus Kickoff

East Street kicked off their Olweus program on January 31st. Here, kindergartners were photographed wearing their “Kindness is my superpower” tee shirts.

OLweus Kickoff

East Street’s own teacher-author Scott Starkey, who wrote the book “How to beat a bully without even trying,” called for volunteers to demonstrate how to deescalate a bullying situation using student volunteers.

OLweus Kickoff

With new anti-bullying words to the song, Uptown Funk,” music teacher Ms. Margaret Corbett led the entire school in a rousing rendition. The students also watched a beautiful video of East Street teachers thanking students who were “caught” in an act of kindness.

OLweus Kickoff

Mrs. Jean-Marie Serra, Principal at East Street, is pictured with here in front of the school’s “Kindness Countdown” bulletin board with the school’s Olweus kick-off team (left to right): Mr.Jason Aliperti, ENL teacher; Ms. Regina Daniel, psychologist; Ms. Andrea Ferrara, grade 4 teacher; Principal Serra; Ms. Susan Peterson, Librarian; Ms. Katherine Suppa, grade 1 teacher; and Mr. Jack Fabrizio, gym teacher.

Olweus Kickoff

At Fork Lane, Site Based Team members and RISE students acted out a skit at the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 24th featuring an “upstander” who stood up to a trio of bullies. Note that the students (and the entire school) are wearing a “FORK: Family of Respectful Kids” tee shirt.

Olweus Kickoff

Fork Lane students were excited to become “upstanders” at the start of the school’s Olweus kick-off event.

Olweus Kickoff

Mr. Eric Freidman, a retired Principal and mentor to Fork Lane Principal Mr. Chris Scardino visited the school for the Olweus kick-off to emphasize the importance of practicing kindness and empathy every day. Note that the reverse side of the Fork Lane tee shirt states “Just Show Up,” a reference to a powerful story told by student advocate and youth motivational speaker David Flood: https://davidjflood.com/

Olweus Kickoff

The entire student body gets into singing together at the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 24th.

Olweus Kickoff

At Lee Avenue, chorus students sang a song about kindness written by music teacher Mr. Frank Barbera. Readers can see a video of the performance by searching Twitter: @hps_lee.  

olweus kickoff

It took two years of collecting bottle caps, but art teacher Staci Kolinsky (left) worked with her students to create a “Bully Free Zone” sign in the style of artist Keith Haring for Lee Avenue. Principal Stephanie Stam is pictured here with the students’ “upcycled” materials sign at the Olweus kick-off on January 30th.

olweus kickoff

Lee Avenue students wrote and acted out a skit about how hurtful bullying can be to the victim at their kick-off event. The school created the “UnbeLEEvable Buddies Club” for fourth and fifth graders to help sustain the Olweus program. 

olweus kickoff

Fifth grade spokespersons from Lee Avenue Ashley and Tristan explained why the Olweus program is so important. “It’s good to teach others to treat others the way you want to be treated,” said Ashley. “It’s important for kids to know about this now so they can teach it to younger students as they get older,” agreed Tristan.

olweus kickoff

At Old Country Road School, the theme of the school’s Olweus program was 
“Let’s Make Bullying Extinct!” The giant dinosaur costume was worn by OCR teaching assistant Tina Ithier.

olweus kickoff

Students acted scenes from a “Little Dinos” series book – tying the school’s anti-bullying Olweus kick-off to its Parents as Reading Partners (PARP) initiative.

olweus kickoff

Old Country Road students proudly wore their dinosaur masks to help make bullying extinct!

olweus kickoff

Excited students at Old Country Road wore colorful dinosaur masks and sang an anti-bullying song to “Uptown Funk” at their Olweus kick-off event on January 3rd.

olweus kickoff

At Woodland, the Olweus team anchored its kick-off event with the song “This is me” and decorated the gymnasium with large banners featuring the Olweus Pledge.

olweus kickoff

Woodland’s Principal Beth Swanson opened and closed the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 23rd reminding the students to be kind and caring in their friendships at school. “New Year; New Promises,” was the theme of the event.

olweus kickoff

Woodland teachers acted out a skit about bullying and excluding another from a game with the “popular” kids.

olweus kickoff

Representatives from each grade at Woodland led the student body in the “Kindness Pledge” at the Olweus kick-off, signing the words as they recited.

See the following list of reading materials to share with your children.

Parent List of Books Aligned with Olweus

Olweus Kickoff Burns

At Burns Avenue Elementary, Principal Dr. John Comer took a moment for a photo op with his students wearing their “Kindness connects us” tee shirts before the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 24th. Many thanks to the generous parent who donated the “Kindness” shirts for the entire school! 

Olweus Kickoff Burns

At Burns, Student Council members cheered on students as they arrived at the kick-off event.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

Teachers acted out a skit to demonstrate how “bystanders” can become “upstanders” by telling an adult what they witnessed.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

The entire school got together for a photo at the close of Burns’ Olweus kick-off event. All students also received kindness wristbands.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

At Burns Avenue Elementary, Principal Dr. John Comer took a moment for a photo op with his students wearing their “Kindness connects us” tee shirts before the school’s Olweus kick-off on January 24th. Many thanks to the generous parent who donated the “Kindness” shirts for the entire school! 

Olweus Kickoff Burns

At Burns, Student Council members cheered on students as they arrived at the kick-off event.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

Teachers acted out a skit to demonstrate how “bystanders” can become “upstanders” by telling an adult what they witnessed.

Olweus Kickoff Burns

The entire school got together for a photo at the close of Burns’ Olweus kick-off event. All students also received kindness wristbands.