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Students tout anti-bullying club


February 19. 2013 6:55PM
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These students are taking the bullying by the horns.


Four Pittston Area students told the school board Tuesday night they are forming an anti-bullying club in the high school.


Student Brittney Giambra said Zero Conflict will be an organization where kids can feel free to express themselves and talk to one another.


The group was originally started in Parkway Middle School in Missouri by students Joey Goldman and Meghan Mudd.


Pittston students contacted Parkway officials and received more details about the program.


We felt the need in our school to become more aware of the problems bullying can cause, Giambra said.


Principal John Haas introduced the students, who came to him with this brilliant idea.


It really shows the values of the Pittston Area students, Haas said. It's students holding themselves accountable.


Pittston Area student Tim Allen said the group will be open to all students to where we can be a mashup of all clubs.


He said the group requests permission for fundraising and getting organizational support from the school to conduct assemblies and hang posters.


Slogans like, Bystanders don't suffer in silence by a bystander's silence causes suffering will be used, Allen said.


For our members, all we require is their devotion and a commitment to sign a contract saying, ‘If I see bullying, I will do something about it.'


Student Kristen Santey told the board the program would eventually make its way into the lower schools in the district.


We'd like to get more student involvement, she said. From the bottom all the way to the top. We'd start it at a young age, where a lot of such problems start.


She said there will be big kickoff event.


We will define the future and determine history, she said. Change is upon is. Our drive and determination will never die. Our persistence and perseverance will never stop.


Superintendent Michael Garzella noted how proud he was of the students.


They're stepping forward and trying to change the culture, Garzella said. This is not a club, this is a culture change.


The board also granted permission for advisor James Blaskiewicz to attend the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Trainer Certification Course on Dec. 5-7 in Mechanicsburg.


He will now be certified to instruct other school districts, Garzella said.


Cherise Tillman told the board the group has 175 names.


After the meeting, members of the school board signed the contract.


Bullying has been in the forefront of school district discussions after several incidents over the past months.


Two student suicides occurred in the district. Although they weren't linked directly to bullying, many said bullying was a problem in the district.


Also, the school board hired an outside lawyer to probe allegations of a district teacher belittling a student.


The unnamed teacher was formally reprimanded according to union contract after telling a student, It's day 13 and I can't stand you already. The exchange was recorded on a student's cell phone.


A letter from the teachers' union to teachers that spoke of parent inadequacies stirred a separate controversy. Union Vice President Rocco D'Angelo sent a letter to union members saying, It is of utmost importance to conduct ourselves in a professional manner, and warning since we all get painted with the same brush by the public let's try giving them nothing negative to paint with. I fear that students and parents will now, more than ever try to implicate us in their misplaced blame for their own inadequacies as parents.


And Pittston resident Michelle Kovach, a parent of a former Pittston student, told the board last month an emotional story of how her daughter was bullied so badly atPittstonArea, she had to pull her out and enroll her in a cyber school, and of a school administration that looked the other way.


In other business, the board:


• Announced a reorganization meeting and the next regular school board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4.


• Appointed Photography by Andy as school photographer for the 2012-2013 school year at no cost to the district.


• Accepted a resignation letter of Cheryl Finn as school psychologist consultant.


• Appointed Joseph Mondik as school psychologist consultant for the rest of the school year at $60 an hour.


• Continued to discuss forming a district lacrosse team.




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