Bingham Peer Leadership Team provides anti-bully education to elementary students
Dec 02, 2016 03:58PM
● By Julie Slama
Members of Bingham High School’s Peer Leadership Team sing a pop song with words they changed to remind students to be kind and not bully as part of their anti-bullying assembly they put on at Elk Meadows Elementary. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
The towering Bingham High senior Seth Webb used to be “small, nerdy, frail and a scarecrow.”
“In elementary school, I was introverted, and people bullied me and shattered my self-esteem,” he said. “It was hard.”
Seth pulled himself out when he realized he loved theater. Now, he is one of 22 students who comprise Bingham’s Peer Leadership Team that travels around elementary schools in the area, trying to give them anti-drug and anti-bullying prevention education.
“I have always loved kids, and I want them to become aware of how to deal with people who have drugs or are trying to bully them, he said. “I joined PLT (Peer Leadership Team) so I can help them lead happier lives.”
The PLT members kicked off the elementary tour this fall at Elk Meadows Elementary with several skits, cheers and songs. Each skit had the message the Peer Leadership Team wanted the elementary students to learn — ask what is going on, identify any trouble that could cause harm or be wrong, state the consequences, provide an alternative activity and invite the person suggesting the negative activity to join in another positive choice.
Many of the skits broke down so Elk Meadows students could identify each step in the process. In one skit, one character tried to bully another in a baseball game, so students identified the student’s action wasn’t nice and hurt another player’s feelings. Alternatives such as going elsewhere to play another game, watch a movie or eating waffles could solve the tense situation, PLT members said.
In another skit, the idea of smoking pot was brought up during the football game. Students could identify that it was wrong, despite all the “cool” sixth-graders doing it, and if they were to get caught, they wouldn’t be able to play the sport they loved. Whether or not the instigator joined them, the football players moved elsewhere to avoid any confrontation and leave the issue behind.
Second-grade teacher Liz Taylor said that she hopes her students gained valuable information that was shared with them.
“I hope they get the idea to ask questions, state the consequences and leave the door open to alternatives,” she said. “Knowing there are choices can be a good thing.”
Second-grader Tyson Zenger said he liked the interactive presentation.
“I liked when they were doing those things that are good, not bad,” he said. “You don’t need to bully on your phones, but instead go swimming. They don’t need to bully people because there are fun, good things to do.”
Bingham PLT adviser Michelle Robbins said that later in the school year, the high school students return to schools to interact with the upper-grade classes.
“My kids feel like rock stars when they go into elementary schools and talk to them about what they remember, and the younger students remember the skits and the cheers,” she said.
PLT also are peer leaders at their own school, having started Hope Squad at Bingham High last year.
“The Hope Squad is our eyes and ears of our school,” said Robbins, who also advises he group. “We’re training students to keep an eye out for students who are depressed or suicidal and look on social media to identify warning signs. These students aren’t trained counselors, but they’re there to listen and to ask students to seek help from a trusted adult or the counseling center.”
The peer leaders also perform acts of service from leaving kind, positive notes on car windshields that are parked in the school lot to writing soldiers, thanking them for their service.
To be considered for PLT, students must write an essay, “What PLT means to me,” get a teacher recommendation and obtain parent approval.
“Many of our students have been there before — having been bullied or contemplated suicide, so they understand what it means to get help and have the opportunity to help someone else,” Robbins said. “Many of them remember PLT coming into their school and want to share it forward.”