Big day at West Seattle Elementary students: Attendance awards; ‘Stand Up to Bullying’ pledges

In the rare instant when West Seattle Elementary counselor Laura Bermes paused amid her frenetic activity this morning making the first of two big assemblies happen, we photographed the sticker on her back so you could see it: Promising to “Stand Up to Bullying” was a big part of what today was about at WSE. A pink flag flew outside, and many staff and many students wore pink:

Bermes explained it’s part of this movement -and told us, “The idea is exciting. We have an anti-bullying policy, ways to report bullying, and really a very nice school; but we’d be naive to think that bullying doesn’t happen in schools. We need to be vigilant in how we address it, and this is one clear way for students to send a message to one another and to the community – WSE is a school where students and adults treat one another with respect. We hope that message spreads into our larger community.”

We were there for the morning assembly, for which the youngest students – kindergarteners through second graders – gathered not just for that rally, but also for awards and rewards. New shoes donated by Brooks were part of the latter:

Two classes won them as part of a Healthy Husky Challenge that Bermes and school nurse Terri Helm-Reymund led – “a 2 week long healthy challenge where students logged the number of minutes they exercised, or participated in some physical activity, every evening. Parents had to sign off on the log.” Bermes said the school was slated to get 35 pairs to give away, but two classes won and she requested, and received 44. One more special prize was announced at the assembly – Bermes got a Seattle Education Foundation grant to help with programs to boost attendance, and with part of the money, she bought a bicycle and gear, prizes for a drawing into which students with low absenteeism and tardiness were entered. Here’s the big announcement:

2nd grader Santiago is the first bicycle winner in the new incentive program:

Drawing entries are given to students with two or fewer absences per trimester and less than five tardies; perfect attendance gets a student five entries. Other prizes included basketballs and hula hoops.

11 Replies to "Big day at West Seattle Elementary students: Attendance awards; 'Stand Up to Bullying' pledges"

  • Chrisd March 29, 2013 (11:34 pm)

    Nice job, way to take on a tough challenge, more schools should follow, we need this to be adopted broadly. End it now, because it only goes right into the workplace. Same bullies, just grown up.

  • Amy March 30, 2013 (1:23 am)

    This is good, standing up to bullying and taking a stand against it.I was bullied in school, at this very school in fact (30 years ago), and I know bullying greatly affects a person’s self esteem, and is unacceptable.

  • David March 30, 2013 (7:37 am)

    Had the privilege of student teaching at West Seattle last year. So many people doing such good work under sometimes challenging circumstances. We owe a debt of gratitude to these folks.

  • Silly Goose March 30, 2013 (7:58 am)

    This is wonderful, I certainly hope someone also applaudes the good work done by these teachers for the love of their students. BRAVO!!!!

  • Marcus March 30, 2013 (8:42 am)

    How exactly are children taught to deal with bullies? Is this a program to raise awareness about bullying?

  • laura March 30, 2013 (9:30 am)

    Thanks West Seattle Blog. Nice to see WSE in such a positive light. Great things happening at our school!

    To answer your question Marcus, we teach about bullying in classrooms: 3rd grade through 5th grade. We focus on teaching social skills in K-2nd grade that help students work through problems. We also have a reporting system in our school for bullying, and have small group and leadership opportunities for students who need a little extra support. All of this is coordinated by the School Counselor, but supported by everyone in the school. In particular, our School Business Officer (equivalent of an Assistant Principal), and our amazing teachers who never fail to show care for their students. Behavior problems are tracked, and parents are engaged. It’s a great school!

    • WSB March 30, 2013 (11:19 am)

      Thanks for the heads-up! I wish we’d had permission to photograph more of the kids because the big smiles on their little faces with all those awards – for attendance, behavior, etc. – were priceless and memorable! TR

  • CurlyQ March 30, 2013 (11:12 am)

    My heart sings. Thank you, thank you, thank you, good people at WSE, for all you do, everyday. You are what makes our country great.

  • Vicki Sacco March 30, 2013 (12:56 pm)

    West Seattle Elementary has team of educators who hold themselves accountable for making our school great. They are passionate, positive, dedicated and hard working. I am so fortunate to be a part of this amazing group of teacher leaders, students and families.

    Thank you Laura, Tara and everyone else who participated in this event. But it is truly the day to day instruction and work that makes West Seattle Elementary such a great school.

    Vicki Sacco,
    Proud Principal or West Seattle Elementary

  • jed April 2, 2013 (12:13 am)

    I am a parent and my son is a victim of cyber bullying. It can affect his studies and he doesn’t want now to go out and mingle some friends because he is afraid to be bullied by someone. How can I monitor my son? Can you help me find a solution with this problem? I already encountered this kind of problem from my friend. Their Son/daughter also a victim of cyber bullying and they are also finding a solution.

  • Laura April 2, 2013 (9:43 am)

    Jed, That’s tough. I would recommend talking with the school about the situation, especially if it involves other children from that school. There is action that they can take, and maybe they can be a resource to help your son connect with some real friends. I would also recommend your son changing his log-on and passwords, and depending on his age, giving you full access to his account so that you can double check that his privacy settings are set. Kids can be cruel, but there are ways to abate their behavior through school policy and action. Chances are your son isn’t the only victim of the bullying that he’s experienced. It’s possible that others have complained about the same bully. The best remedy for someone like your son, would be to help him connect with other people that appreciate him. Help him to join a group, help him to journal about his experience, and maybe seek counseling. It sounds like he may be feeling depressed, as his behavior has changed. That’s my recommendation from a cursory glance at the issue. I believe that children are the author of their own stories, they can take adverse experiences and find strength within that will help them in the future – he might grow to remember the time that he was bullied, but still managed to have friends and do good in school. But, that usually takes guidance from the adults in their lives. Get nosy and be consistent in showing care. And one last piece of advice, don’t recommend fighting – that’s a mistake that can lead to physical harm.

Sorry, comment time is over.