The Tracy Unified School District director of student services, Paul Hall, hosted three two-hour workshops last week at the Institute for Global Commerce and Government, 1904 N. Corral Hollow Road, to give students tools to tackle bullying.
The session for high school students was Sept. 10, for middle school students Sept. 12 and for elementary school students Friday, Sept. 13.
“Today is the third day of our training our trainers,” Hall said Friday. “The big thing about this ‘train a trainer’ is we’re doing this thing called backward design. I will show the kids how to go from a vision, seeing the vision, and then what steps it takes to get to that vision.”
Hall said Tracy Mayor Brent Ives and the City Council will declare October anti-bullying month.
“But we really want to work on it all year, because bullying doesn’t just happen in the month of October,” Hall said. “We keep the message in front of the kids. We keep activities in front of the kids so that it’s constantly in their head.”
Hall believes the message is most important for elementary school children.
“It starts with them. Bullying starts early,” Hall said. “The more that they get involved, the more they’ll be able to change their actual culture and their own schools.”
That change in culture is why Jefferson Superintendent Dr. James Bridges, who attended the elementary school session, accepted Hall’s invitation to join forces.
“A lot of issues we deal with are issues between schools districts, and we felt it was really good if we proactively worked together to try to solve the problem of bullying throughout Tracy,” Bridges said.
Veronica Botros, 10, from McKinley Elementary School, has seen bullying and hopes she can make a difference by learning the tools to keep bullies at bay.
“I didn’t like it because people were fighting. They were being mean to each other, and that wasn’t very nice,” Veronica said. “We’re learning how to change the world. Make a difference.”
Johnathan Stanfield, 10, from South/West Park Elementary School, has tried to confront bullies before and hoped to learn how to be more effective.
“I told them to stop. They wouldn’t listen, and then I went and told (school administrators),” Johnathan said.
Brian Pekari, from Tracy United to Make a Difference, is a member of the TUSD Anti-Bullying Committee, which Hall coordinates. Pekari sees power in recruiting students from various parts of the city for a shared purpose.
“Uniting all these different schools together throughout Tracy Unified School District, Jefferson School District and Tracy Learning Centers,” Pekari said, “demonstrates the collaborative power of working together to create solutions within our schools and community.”
Hall hopes the workshops and similar efforts lead to real change.
“We can do top down all we want, from the administrators and teachers telling them what to do, but the real power comes when the actual students carry the message and model it and practice it until it becomes an accepted norm in the schools,” Hall said. “The power is actually in the students.”
The TUSD Anti-Bullying Committee meets at the district administration building, 1875 W. Lowell Ave., from 5:30 to 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month.
•Contact Michael Ellis Langley at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.