Broken Arrow contest aims to prevent bullying

As tragedies spurred by bullying make headlines across the nation, one Lawrence school’s contest aims to stop the problem before it starts.

Students at Broken Arrow School, 2704 La., recently wrapped up a poster contest with anti-bullying messages to post around the building. Six students’ works were featured among the more than 200 entries.

Broken Arrow’s contest, however, is part of a bigger initiative in the Lawrence school district calling for a bullying prevention plan, which was to be in place by January 2008, says Carrie Mantooth, guidance counselor at Broken Arrow.

“We will help students, including students who are excluded,” Mantooth says. “We teach kids to report to adults in and out of school when we see others being bullied or any bullying behavior.”

She says the school places emphasis on character education.

“When we address culture and climate, we can’t leave out character education,” Mantooth says. “That includes strong work ethic, success and academics, anti-bullying behavior and happiness in life.”

Contest winners were Leia Poetker, first grade; Zoe McLaughlin; Olivia Sanchez, third grade; Vera Petrovic, fourth grade; Grayson Rodriquez, fifth grade, and Annie Grammer, sixth grade.

Rodriquez says she’s learned a lot about how her classmates should treat one another.

“Bullying is not really nice, and it can really hurt someone,” she says. “It’s not really tolerated.”

Mantooth says the anti-bullying message goes beyond the contest, with a schoolwide initiative to learn more about leadership. Teachers have incorporated character education into the writing curriculum, and students applied to join leadership teams for a variety of school functions, including to serve on the judging team for the poster contest.

“Focusing on this helps us realize how important this is,” Mantooth says. “An anti-bullying climate will help us become responsible members in the community we live in.”