• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCMS launches bullying prevention program

Woodford County Middle School has launched a bullying prevention program that's a school-wide approach, with parent and community involvement. "We want to be very proactive in our approach to doing bullying prevention at the middle school level," said WCMS guidance counselor Derby Akers. She described the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program as researched-based and multifaceted. "It's not just a student coming to see a principal or a counselor," explained Akers. "Students get really involved. They are helping one another." Students have been given questionnaires to determine what kinds of bullying issues are happening at WCMS and they'll have an avenue for anonymously reporting issues to counselors and administrators when they arise, Akers said. "And we're going to teach them strategies about how to prevent bullying and also how to not be a bystander as well as ... how to be a better student, how to be a better citizen," she said. Akers said WCMS Principal Tracy Bruno used the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program very effectively at his former administrative post in Nashville. WCMS is one of several schools in Kentucky piloting this nationally known program that involves teachers and non-teachers, including custodians as well as cafeteria staff, she added. "We know that relationships are key," said Akers. "So if (our students) feel safe and comfortable then they're going to be comfortable in an academic environment." During a school-wide pep rally last Friday to officially launch the Bullying Prevention Program, assistant Principal Scott Hundley told students, "There's always someone here that you can talk to ... If you see someone being bullied ... make sure they're not alone." The strategies that students will learn to prevent bullying at WCMS will also be useful in their community and workplace, according to Akers. She said the Kentucky Department of Education provided WCMS with training and materials leading up to last week's launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

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