August 12, 2010
By Melissa Downer
While bullying in and outside of school has always been a problem, Saratoga Springs Middle School has become proactive on the topic and has started a student-run club called “Get Up Stand Up.”
As the eighth-graders head off to high school in the next school year, founding members Bobby Griffin, 14 and Kenny DeLoria, 15, are relying on the incoming sixth graders to join the club and make Saratoga Springs Middle School a positive place to be for all students. To help motivate the new middle-schoolers to join the club, Griffin and DeLoria participated in this years D.A.R.E. All-Stars camp that acclimates and prepares fifth-graders with their transition to Middle School. About one-third of the fifth grade class participated this year.
“When the new sixth-graders enter middle school, they will only recognize maybe 10 other students from their elementary school. This gives them a good chance to meet students from other elementary schools and make them feel more comfortable,” said Camp Director Erin Llyod.
Each day of the camp touches on a different topic such as life skills (including fire prevention, nutrition and the anti-bullying seminar), sports, arts and substance abuse awareness and prevention. The camp is organized around a substance abuse prevention curriculum and is designed to reinforce shared group norms against substance use, promote the development of goals and a positive vision for the future and to support children in making and publicly declaring commitments that will help them to achieve those goals.
“If we ask the children individually what they think about people who do drugs or drink and drive, they will most likely say they are stupid. We have games and surveys that show them that they all agree and share the same opinions,” Lloyd said.
The “Get Up Stand Up” program is new this year, and teaches children techniques in dealing with bullies and getting help from teachers on how to prevent bullying. In school, the club meets on Thursdays after school and addresses bullying in school and how to prevent it. Some of the techniques include making a scene when a bully is harassing a student to grab the attention of a teacher, walk away or stay with friends when a child is expecting to run into the bully because, according to DeLoria, “a bully’s biggest fear is getting caught.”
As a way to report bullying confidentially, the club made it possible to report bullying through EdLine, an online system that the school and students use to check grades or homework assignment. An act of bullying can be reported on this website and will only be read by the principal, assistant principals or guidance counselors.
According to eighth-grade social studies teacher Evan Williamson, the club came to fruition through an idea by a teacher, but it really grew as the students became involved.
“Only they can really prevent bullying. This is a club made up of students helping students,” he said.
Though the All Stars Camp is affiliated with D.A.R.E., which is no longer available through city budget issues, All Stars Camp will continue to run each year to help the large transition between elementary school and middle school.
For more information on the All Stars Camp, visit http://saratogapartnership.org/programs/AllStarsCamp.