We know that middle school can be a tough time for adolescents. During these years, bullying is a major concern for school officials and a source of anxiety for many school children.
The “Speak Out! Against Bullying” Writing and presentation program is a Tier-1 initiatives that focuses on creating a climate of goodwill within the building while effectively aligning with the school’s emphasis on literacy.
In one middle school, Dr. Claudia Aldamuy, CIS Site Coordinator at St. Andrews Middle School, developed a school-wide initiative to address the bullying issue in schools.
Early in the school year students were challenged to write a one-page literary piece about bullying. They have the option to write an essay, poem, or rap expressing their feelings about the bullying issue and may write from the victim, bystander, or even bully’s perspective.
Each student entry is read and approximately thirty finalists (10 in each category) are selected to present their written work to a panel of judges at the “Speak Out!” competition
For approximately 6-weeks , the finalists meet with Mr.s Aldamuy to discuss the bullying problem, view PSAs about bullying, improve their writing, and develop their presentation style.
To stay in the competition, the students must take a pledge to not bully and to become ambassadors of goodwill in the building. Getting them to the finish line is not an easy task as many students have never presented in front of an audience and for some, resisting the urge to respond to bullying can be difficult. Nevertheless, they ultimately overcome their stage fright and successfully complete the program only to impress the judges, their parents, and mostly themselves. All students are rewarded for their efforts regardless of where they place in the competition.
In addition to the Speak Out! Ribbon, each student receives a framed certificate and a participation medallion is hung around each contestant’s neck. Trophies are awarded for first, second and third place and the top winner in each category receives a special grand prize. In past years, the first-place winner received a laptop computer donated by a dedicated community partner. This year will mark the sixth annual Speak Out! Against Bullying showcase.