ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Students at St. Francis of Assisi School participated in an assembly to kick-off an anti-bullying program. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is a national program RCS will be implementing in their schools in October; National Bullying Prevention Month.
Rochester Catholic Schools is looking to reduce bullying in their classrooms by reaching out to students. Faculty wore shirts with "HERO," which stands for "Help Everyone Respect Others," written on the back.
"Respect is our foundation of our school. It's a key piece of our school and Rochester Catholic Schools is really good about educating the whole child. It's not just academic but it's social and emotional and it's about respect. It's about how we treat each other and it really brings success for every student," said school counselor, Tracy Lund.
For some students, the solution is obvious but not always easy.
"I'd try to say something, but sometimes I'd be pretty nervous," admitted Dominic Schwirtz, a 5th grader at St. Francis of Assisi. "I would still try to say something. I would normally say something like, "that's not very nice."
For younger students this was one of their first times learning about what bullying looks like. So their upper classmates acted out the all-too-familiar scenario-a kid looking to sit down at a lunch table with no one looking back to welcome them a seat.
For the young actors themselves, taking on the roles of a victim of bullying was eye-opening experience.
"It was kind of jarring. You weren't expecting it to so strongly affect you," said 8th grader, Carolyn Leibovick. "To be in that position and have all those emotions crashing down on you. You're like, why does this have to happen?"
Together, the school took the first step in fixing the problem. All students pledged to stand up to bullies.
As part of this campaign, RCS students at each of their 5 campuses will meet every Tuesday in their classrooms. Teachers will lead them in discussions on ways to prevent bullying and what they can do to stand up to a bully.
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