- Edgefield County School District
- Edgefield County School District
MERRIWETHER ELEMENTARY ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAM BEGINS WITH ‘ROAR’: School Leaders Pair Anti-Bullying Message with Student ‘Houses’ Emphasizing Good Character Traits
MERRIWETHER – With an unbridled joy only a room filled with smiling elementary school students could generate, the Merriwether Elementary School student body danced and jumped with Katy Perry’s booming lyrics as their anthem.
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
'Cause I am a champion, and you're gonna hear me roar
And ROAR they did.
As elementary school celebrations go, however, this was a unique one. Yes, the dance party served as a reward, but it was also a dual jumping off point for both the school’s annual Owleus anti-bullying initiative kickoff and a popular, school-wide culture-building exercise whereby students are placed in Latin-themed “Houses” representing specific character traits such as “Amicus” (friendship) and “Quantum” (respect).
Merriwether Elementary third grade teacher Alyson Abbott, who leads the school’s Owleus program, says combining the two into a single event made sense for the school as one works to reinforce the other.
“We felt like if the students were going to be exhibiting positive character traits to earn tokens for their houses, they would probably not be bullying anyone,” stated Abbott.
The Owleus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) website includes the following information:
“The program is focused on long-term change that creates a safe and positive school climate. The program’s goals are to reduce and prevent bullying problems among school children and to improve peer relations at school. The program has been found to reduce bullying among students, improve the social climate of classrooms, and reduce related antisocial behaviors, such as vandalism and truancy.”
“We have an entire Owleus curriculum and specific lessons each week for students,” added Abbott.
Merriwether Elementary Gifted and Talented Teacher Rebecca Hamilton leads the school’s “House” initiative. The houses were inspired by the three components of the Profile of the Edgefield County Graduate – Personal Skills, Thinking Skills, and Relational Skills – with two houses taken from each component to form the six total houses, which include:
“Amicus” (friendship), “Quantum” (respect), “Fidelis” (Loyalty), “Innovatio” (Innovation), “Integritas” (Integrity), and “Viribus” (Strength).
Hamilton says each house has a different color and its own crest beautifully designed and illustrated by Merriwether Elementary art teacher Michael Keltz. During the Owleus kickoff, students picked a house-colored bracelet out of a box to learn which house they would be a part of for the remainder of the school year.
Students earn tokens when they exhibit the traits and each month the house with the most tokens wins a special prize, with an overall yearly prize being the primary goal for each house.
“We’re trying to develop the whole child, so these six traits are great traits for every student to exhibit, and it’s also fun, which is important,” commented Hamilton.
Students gather together as a “House” each month to learn a specific cheer and participate in team-building exercises. There are also plans for the houses to compete in a field day event toward the end of the school year.
“If students are consistently making good choices, they are less likely to make bad choices,” Hamilton added.