Friday, February 24, 2012
By SARAH FOOR
The students at Frank Ohl Intermediate celebrated Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 by giving treats and messages to friends and sweethearts, but also added more to the celebration.
During the holiday that celebrates everything about love, teachers and counselors taught the fourth- and fifth-graders about love by having sympathy, empathy and respect for others.
Jeanne Senchak, a guidance counselor at Frank Ohl, said similar anti-bullying messages are taught to the children throughout the year.
“I have group discussions with students and teach them to give out respect so that they can earn that same respect, as well as many lessons about understanding the plight of others. My office is covered with messages about diversity and originality, and I stress that everyone is different and that is OK,” Senchak said.
However, after tapping into the general good cheer around Valentine’s Day, counselors and teachers created a lesson on bullying that followed each class party.
“Each class is adding their own creativity to the project, but each of us are focusing on a story of a student being bullied. Each student group will be given a paper heart to represent that victim and each time that student is bullied, a piece of their heart breaks and part of our paper heart is ripped away,” explained teacher Jeff Swavel, who assisted with the project.
“Each group will glue the ripped pieces of the heart back together. The lesson is that the heart doesn’t break completely, but it doesn’t look quite the same again after bullying,” continued Senchak.
The projects added a serious, but important, aspect to the frivolity of Valentine’s Day.
Senchak said similar lessons will continue, in further efforts to teach the damage of bullying. The counselor said she believes that change starts one student at a time.
“We teach the kids to love and respect themselves, which often translates to the way they treat others. When we achieve that, the bullying then takes care of itself,” she said.