Genoa-Kingston Middle School tackles bullying

Published: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

GENOA – Caden Frye is no stranger to bullying.

The Genoa-Kingston Middle School student said he has seen acts of bullying but instead of ignoring it, he has told school teachers and officials about it. Frye, an eighth-grade student, joined dozens of others Friday who pledged to do the same. Each student who wanted to commit to reporting bullying inked their names on a wall inside the school’s cafeteria.

“I want other kids to know that bullying is not OK,” Frye said.

The wall included a logo that depicted the school’s mascot, a cog, breaking through the wall with a mean face on the cog that is split in half.

In November and December the school has launched its first “If You See It, Say It,” campaign. School staff are planning a series of events and activities to teach students appropriate ways to respond to bullying. They kicked off the effort with a “See It, Say It,” dance.

“The focus here is on empowering bystanders,” said Angelo Lekkas, the school’s principal, “and by doing that you are empowering the student body to make a difference.”

The No. 1 way the staff and teachers find out about bullying is when students tell them about it, he said. Students have created posters about bullying awareness, but the “I Want You To Say If You See It,” wall is a permanent record of names of students who are committed to reporting bullying. Teachers can sign the wall as well.

Cindy Bakanas said students’ signatures on the wall will let others who are afraid to speak out know they have the support of their peers. Bakanas, a seventh-grade reading and language arts teacher, leads the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports team.

“We want them to be upstanding citizens, and this is the way to teach them this should be stopped,” she said.

The wall’s logo seems to be “breaking through the wall of bullying,” Bakanas said.

The logo was designed by Brenden Riggs, a seventh-grade student. Riggs said he doesn’t see a lot of bullying at his school, but nevertheless thinks people should not tolerate it.

His design for the wall has a simple message.

“It’s letting [people] know bullying is going to get stopped,” Riggs said.

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