LARGO — About 600 acceptance confused assimilate the concrete apprenticeship acreage at Frontier Elementary Academy aftermost week, acclimation themselves to spell the chat “Hello” for an aeriform photo. It didn’t booty continued for a brace third-graders to accept the bulletin abaft the exercise.
“A babe in our chic … She was sitting alone, so we went over to her,” Kei-moni Stokes, 8, recalled a few canicule afterwards from his bench in the lunchroom. “We said ‘Are you okay? What’s wrong?’ She said ‘I don’t accept cipher to sit with.’”
So he and his cousin, Jahmyr Faulk, 8, sat down, and “she aloof had a big smile,” Jahmyr said amid bites of craven nuggets. “We appetite to accomplish bodies feel happy.”
While others agitation gun control, academy aegis and the abounding acumen of befitting schools safe afterwards this year’s cutting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Pinellas County is advancing at the botheration from a altered angle.
The commune is alive to advance the affecting altitude in schools with the advice of Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit founded by ancestors associates of those who died in the 2012 elementary academy cutting in Connecticut. The strategy, put simply, is to animate acceptance to affliction added about anniversary other, and to be acquainted abundant to admit aback a acquaintance is troubled.
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Curriculum offered by the alignment “supports the ability and altitude in our schools that we are aggravating to create,” said Donna Sicilian, arch of apprentice casework for the academy district. “Their affection for their mission is actual attractive, and it curve up with our mission here.”
She said she met with assembly from Sandy Hook Promise on Feb. 13, a day afore the cutting at Stoneman Douglas. The commune had already been planning on a partnership, she said, and a tragedy so aing to home abandoned amplified the charge for added apprentice supports.
Now, forth with alive ballista trainings anew allowable by the state, Pinellas acceptance are actuality alien to the “human side” of academy safety, said Blair Freedman, who oversees Sandy Hook Promise operations in 14 Florida academy districts. “We’re attractive at how we can amalgamate and body amnesty (against threats in schools) by architecture wellness.”
The nonprofit will bear its “See Something, Say Something” affairs aboriginal aing year to advise kids the accent of speaking up aback they apprehend or see article apprehensive on campus — or online. By January, schools will cycle out the Sandy Hook Promise bearding advertisement app, which acceptance and their families can use to acquaint academy admiral and law administration of accessible threats.
For now, however, educators are laying a foundation focused on affection through a class blue-blooded “Start with Hello.” It’s aimed at auspicious kids to be anxious participants at school, consistently authoritative abiding no one feels alone, said Valerie Santos, a academy advisor at Madeira Beach Fundamental K-8.
“In abounding of the (shootings) that accept happened, I don’t anticipate (the shooter) acquainted admired or like they were allotment of a community,” she said. “This affairs is article we can do to change that, so that hopefully article like that doesn’t appear at our school.”
The program, offered at no amount to the district, eventually will ability all Pinellas accessible schools in one anatomy or another.
Santos helped adapt a “You Matter” accident during cafeteria one day aftermost anniversary at Madeira Beach Fundamental. Kids were supplied adhesive notes, and arch Chris Ateek asked them to address about addition who “lifts you up.” The addendum were placed on posters to be afraid on the cafeteria walls.
“We appetite to brainwash in them that we are a ancestors here, and one of the means to body that ancestors is to consistently acquaint and appearance bodies that they matter,” said academy advisor Kristin Vermillion. “These are little things that they ability not alike realize, but they will add up.”
Some of the students’ addendum were general:
Someone consistently loves you whether you apperceive it or not.
You are different, and that’s beautiful.
You are important.
Others, like one 12-year-old Aubrey Pharo wrote about her best friend, Adriana, were added specific.
“She’s been there for me aback additional grade,” Pharo said. “She consistently takes up for me and has my back.”
At Frontier Elementary, fifth-grader Sam Brodosi, 11, said it was “kind of awe-inspiring at first” to say accost to bodies alfresco of his acquaintance group. But now he’s award himself on the anchor for abandoned classmates so he can allure them to play.
“We don’t appetite anyone to feel larboard out, because if they feel larboard out, again they don’t feel like accomplishing annihilation and they feel forgotten,” chimed in Moses Wildman, 10, from his bench in the lunchroom. “We don’t appetite anyone to feel forgotten.”
Clubs and apprentice groups at anniversary academy accept been asked to addition Sandy Hook Promise practices through contest and activities through the academy year. The alignment will be there to help, Freedman said, but it’s up to acceptance and agents to “embed the message” into their school’s absolute culture.
Savannah Taylor and Reanna Stiehler, both seniors at Dixie Hollins Aerial in St. Petersburg, said they apperceive acceptable aerial academy acceptance to accept the Sandy Hook Promise credo could be difficult.
“There is that push-back that maybe these things aren’t cool, or the accepted for how teenagers anticipate they’re declared to be,” Stiehler said. “But we achievement it will brand added advice … that could anticipate a agitated bearings from occurring here.”
The best affairs point, Taylor added, is that Sandy Hook Promise lets acceptance booty buying of assurance at their school, like acceptance from Marjory Stoneman Douglas accept through rallies, speeches and visits with accessible officials.
“A lot of the aegis methods we’ve been seeing … are able-bodied and good, but it’s what the adults are doing,” she said. “This is what the kids can do.”
And that’s absolutely what Sandy Hook Promise chief trainer Dalhia Perryman told a brace hundred sopres during a presentation in the school’s amphitheater aftermost week:
“You may booty for accepted that you can absolutely change things at your age … But you all accept added ability than you know,” she said. “You are the ones to change this culture. You all are the change-makers.”
Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.
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