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D-B taking a proactive approach against bullying

Helping students deal with and prevent bullying is a task that will not be completed overnight, and staff at Dawson-Bryant is in it for the long haul.

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the Dawson-Bryant school district devised a survey for parents and guardians of students in the district and asked for their input on the biggest issues the students face. Bullying was on the top of the list. Dr. Dennis Lewis from EduSafe was contacted and he spoke at the school on Nov. 1.

Some changes have been made.

This school year, the time period directly after lunch and before classes for the high school students is no longer free time, but a time put to more productive use. That time is now called Hornet Block.

“It is utilizing their time a little better, with smaller group settings,” said Tomi Blankenship, director of student services for middle school and high school at Dawson-Bryant. Blankenship said that there is a variety of things that are done and discussed during that time period.

In addition to bullying, there are discussions about other major issues, such as teen depression, as well as other beneficial topics like filling out college applications, registering for the Act and even prom committee meetings. Blankenship said the students have accepted the Hornet Block a lot better than the staff had anticipated.

“We have had less resistance than what we thought we would,” she said. “We had talked to them and told them we are trying to promote a better sense of community.”

Blankenship said the time period is more of a dialogue providing information to the students.

One of the things Blankenship said the district needs as a focus is tolerance.

“We don’t see it as much here with race, but more with student interests,” she said. “If a student isn’t perceived as part of the popular crowd, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be accepted.

“We are stressing how we need to make a difference in the world, rather than being unkind. We are trying to build a sense of community. When that happens, bullying isn’t tolerated,” she said.

Blankenship said though the turnout for the November meeting had a small parent turnout, it was an enlightening meeting. Students from Ohio University Southern studying to become teachers were there, and Blankenship said their opinions and input was helpful, and the speaker was informative.

There will be another meeting in December, though the exact date isn’t set in stone yet.

“I feel like we got a start for our district,” Blankenship said.