Principals from the seven Hereford Zone schools have always met with each other several times a year to discuss common goals and concerns. But they started meeting more often after attending a Safe Schools conference this summer that featured bullying prevention expert Michele Borba.
Since that conference in June, the Hereford principals have created anti-bullying banners and posters that now hang in all Hereford Zone schools — and the logo appears on their schools' websites, too.
"Michele said how great it would be for every school to have its own anti-bullying campaign. Our community out here in the Hereford Zone is so pure, we thought, 'Why don't we all do the same thing?' The banners and posters are a visual reminder that we won't tolerate bullying," said Prettyboy Elementary School principal Sue Truesdell during a Sept. 13 meeting of the seven Zone principals.
Hereford High School's principal, Andrew Last, said his school's theater department students will create skits about bullying and go to each elementary school and the middle school to perform them.
In addition to sending a serious message, the theater students will be getting some valuable performance experience, albeit in front of younger kids.
"All the students aspire to become Hereford High School students, so these skits will be a form of peer pressure, not parent pressure," he said.
The principals are considering having T-shirts made with the anti-bullying logo and giving them out to younger students who will be asked to participate in the skits. They might have the students write comments about the skits, which would be shared with the high schoolers.
Cathay Warlord, principal at Hereford Middle School, where anti-bullying posters hang in every classroom, said motivational speaker Ed Greedy will talk with students on Oct. 1 about bullying. She invited the other Zone principals to attend.
"Most kids out here are empathetic and 99.9 percent of them are remorseful when we talk with them about comments they've made that hurt somebody," she said.
The principals talked about ways to help students understand the difference between teasing and bullying and to understand that being a bystander who says nothing when seeing another student being bullied is a big part of the problem.
"It's up to the bystander to say, 'Stop it'," said Jacksonville Elementary School principal Debye Glinowiecki, who said she still remembers being bullied as a sixth-grader.
The principals are also involving the PTAs in the anti-bullying campaign. Representatives from each school's PTA will also meet regularly to talk about specific issues in each community and to share ideas.
Penelope Martin-Knox, assistant superintendent of middle schools for the county school system, sat in on the meeting and agreed to speak about bullying to parents at Hereford High School's auditorium. That date has not yet been set.