April 04, 2012 - If Everest Academy eighth graders Becca Luttinen and Emma Cross saw someone being bullied, they know what to do.
Everest students Becca Luttinen, left, Emma Cross and classmates are learning how to prevent and respond to bullying. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
"If I see a bullying circle, I hope to not be a bystander or henchman," Luttinen said. "I'll strive to stop the bullying, even if I get bullied. It would be bad if no one stands up."
"I hope I would be a defender," Cross said. "If it's serious, I'd get a teacher."
Everest introduced the school-wide program, called the Golden Rule Campaign, in January.
"Instead of focusing on bullying, it's to let Christ in so you see the Christ in others so bullying doesn't happen in the first place," said Chelsea Gheesling, Everest marketing and communications director. "A process is in place on how to deal with it when it happens."
"The main point is to provide a unified front, involve the entire school community and be proactive," said Erin Van Wagoner, Everest Girls School dean of students. "This is an ongoing program to eliminate and prevent bullying throughout the school environment."
The Christ-centered, faith-based program includes school-wide presentations, classroom discussion, and individual reflection.
"It's about helping others, like when they're having trouble with friends or when my brother needs help with homework," Luttinen said.
"We see how to be better and help others," Cross said.
The campaign teaches them to stand up for each other, Gheesling said.
"How to stand up and be strong, not be mean," Cross said. "If done smartly, there'll be peace."
"We talk about how not to be a bystander, to go and stop it, to stand up for people when others are making fun of them," Luttinen said. "It's the right thing to do."
It also helps outside of school, Cross said.
"Like in the neighborhood," she said. "Or with little siblings, stand up for them."
The Golden Rule Campaign will be renewed at the beginning of every school year.
"As we get older and more mature, we'll learn how to handle other situations," Luttinen said. "When they get on your nerves, how to get along with others and deal with bullying."
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.