By Janis Peiser
There isn’t a week that goes by without news of another tragedy due to bullying. Children are being traumatized at best and taking their lives at worst due to the cruelty of their peers. This problem has grown in epidemic proportions and will continue to do so without early intervention by parents, organizations and schools.
The Ann and Nate Levine Academy takes bullying very seriously. Recently, its K–8 students attended an internationally acclaimed bullying prevention program called “The Power of One.” The program used skit-based anti-bullying performances to vividly illustrate physical bullying, exclusion bullying and cyberbullying. Students, as well as the actors, participated in playing the parts of the three principals of any bullying situation: the bully, the target and the bystanders. “It was strange that I was chosen to play the target in the skit because I have been bullied in real life,” said third-grade student Ethan Fine. “It felt real and it was not fun to be the target. The program seemed to work because I have not seen any bullying around the school.”
At the conclusion of the program, the students discovered that the “Power of One” meant that they, as individuals, possessed the power to stop bullying — they were obligated to get involved and prevent it from happening. Once they realized that they had the “Power of One,” they were asked to sign an oath and recite an oath to end bullying. “I am really happy everyone took the oath,” said fifth-grade student Courtney Rawitscher. “I hated going to school because I was bullied, but since the ‘Power of One’ performance, I haven’t been bullied and I now like coming to school.”
“We have a continuing responsibility to our families and the community to instill an understanding in our students of the impact of our words and actions on others,” said K–8 Principal Dr. Susie Wolbe. “We brought in ‘Challenge Day’ for our entire middle school long before it appeared on Oprah, we brought in ‘Rachel’s Challenge’ for our entire K–8 and now ‘The Power of One,’ again for our entire K-8. We do not bring in these groups and then forget about them; we keep a piece of each program and use them all to make an impression, along with our Ethical Covenant, on our students regarding our responsibility to our world.” Students at Levine Academy continue to have weekly Be the Change club meetings, and now they will have an opportunity to join an anti-bullying club, established by two lower-school students. “We will never be perfect but we will always give attention to the greater goal of being kind, supportive and respectful to one another.” Wolbe said.
The Ann and Nate Levine Academy, a Conservative Jewish day school, is located at 18011 Hillcrest Road in Far North Dallas.
Janis Peiser is the communications director at Levine Academy.