Alma Schrader launches Anti-Bullying Club

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Members of Alma Schrader Elementary School's anti-bullying club from left, Grace Sanders, Samuel Reazer, Kareem Shaheen, McKensi Williams and Jack Maxton. (Laura Simon)

Alma Schader Elementary is taking a stand against bullying with its Anti-Bullying Club (ABC), formed by five second-graders in fall 2010.

"We saw a lot of bullying outside and we wanted to stop it," says Grace Sanders, an original member who's now in third grade. She saw a girl push another student, and she also saw kids being excluded from games. She and classmates Jack Maxton, Sammy Reazer, Kareem Shaheen and McKensi Williams met with guidance counselor Julia Unnerstall to find out what they could do about bullying in their school. The group began brainstorming, and it's been like a domino effect of ideas since then, says Unnerstall. The goal of the club, she explains, is to make sure that bullying is not an issue at Alma Schrader.

"We really promote here that we are a family," says Unnerstall. "If you go to school here, then you have a family. The school is your family, and families take care of each other."

The ABC charter members, now in third grade, spend two or three recesses each week working on club business in Unnerstall's office. They held a business meeting to design and order T-shirts, which they now sell for $5 and are popular to wear on school spirit days. They wrote an anti-bullying song, with help from music teacher Rebecca Gentry, and every Alma Schrader student has memorized it. They're even working on a book about how to identify and address bullying. Each book will have a membership card for students to tear out and sign, making their anti-bullying commitment official. The book is still in its storyboard stage in Unnerstall's office, but the club hopes to give a copy to every student in school. They're already setting up appointments to read the book in teachers' classrooms.

"Right now we're focusing on our book, but we would like to work on more things to stop bullying," says Sanders, like increasing awareness about the club, boosting membership, putting on skits and expanding to other schools.

"I don't think it's really work. I think it's just trying to make our school better," says McKensi Williams. "We really made a difference in the school years I've been here. I've been here for kindergarten, first grade and second grade, and there's not that much bullying now."

The only requirement for ABC members is that they not bully.

Alma Schrader Elementary students McKensi Williams and Jack Maxton have a laugh during their anti-bullying club meeting. (Laura Simon)

"They can be a member by showing their membership on the playground -- by including others, by helping each other when they see bullying and to take care of each other like a family should," says Unnerstall.

In November, the club was recognized by the Cape Girardeau Public School Board for earning a national award from the Character Education Partnership.

"Who would have thought that a group of second-graders would have that impact?" says Unnerstall.

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