With bullying as one of the main topics Nanuet Schools address firmly, there is a group of Highview Elementary students who have taken a proactive approach.
“During the summer, I was looking for a program to start at school to create more empathy among the students. The Caring Majority is a program we started this year,” said Highview Counselor Melissa Lipson. “We enlisted 58 Caring Majority ambassdors to spread the word around the building that caring is cool and bullying is not.”
Lipson read the book Stand Up by Lisa Roth, M.D. and Karen Siris, Ed.D., and illustrated by Masha Levitin. In the book, students created a group called the Caring Majority to “stomp out bullying.”
“The kids asked to create a Caring Majority group at Highview. Students who were interested in joining wrote letters and applied for a position in the group,” said Lipson. “They had to write why they feel they would a good leader and make a difference in the school in terms of bullying. Principal Barbara Auriemma and I went over the applications and interviewed the students. We’ve done a lot in the short time we started.”
Since the group started at the beginning of the school year, the students have made a powerpoint presentation, a song, posters, a bulletin board and t-shirts. Many special area teachers have been involved with this program, such as art and music. Jodi Hink, the library, is doing book discussion with the students using Stand Up.
At the Nanuet Elementary PTA meeting at 10 a.m. on Dec. 10 at Highview, the students will be presenting the powerpoint and singing the song to the community. Everyone is welcome to come.
“We’re going to show the PTA the idea and how it came along,” said fourth grader Benjamin beal.
Patch spoke to third grade ambassadors Madeline Gallagher and Sandy Bach and fourth grade ambassadors Caroline Murray, Benjamin Beal, Aidan McCauley and Isabella Marsico.
“Over the summer, Mrs. Lipson read Stand Up. I think she’s done a great job with the program,” said Beal.
“We thought it was important to stop bullying at Highview and make sure everyone’s nice to everyone else,” said Gallagher. “I liked deciding how we should make our school kind and make everyone happy. Mrs. Lipson has been really nice and helping us help other people.”
“When I was little, I was being bullied and I didn’t want others to be bullied too,” said Bach. “I like making decisions when we have our conferences.” Bach refers to the weekly meetings Lipson has with the ambassadors in the conference room.
“I wanted to become an ambassador because it I think it is a good idea to help others and help others feel better about themselves,” said Murray. “You want to be upstanders, not bystanders. My favorite part is being part of Caring Majority and knowing that other people know that I’m not a bystander.”
“I wanted to be an ambassador because I thought it would be fun helping people and help people be kind and help them with their problems,” said Beal. “Bullying is very bad. It’s not just the 58 people who are ambassadors, it’s about the whole community.”
“I want to make Highview a better place,” said McCauley. “If someone (is being bullied), I could say, ‘back off, don’t hurt them.’”
“I wanted to join because I noticed some people are being bullied or left out and I wanted to change that in the school,” said Marsico.
“These kids are taking off with it. They’re training other kids as well,” said Lipson, referring to the powerpoint made by several fourth graders. They’re usuing the powerpoint to teach their peers on bullying—physical, emotional and cyber bullying.
“I liked being part of making the slideshow and spreading the word about bullying,” said Murray.
Fourth Grader Reia Thomas took the lead behind creating this powerpoint
The ambassadors each have a tie-dye t-shirt with the words ‘Highview’s Caring Majority’ in the front and a school-wide slogan in the back. Art Teacher Kodi Tidd was the go-to teacher with this project.
“They came up with ideas for the t-shirts. Mrs. Tidd took the ideas and put it all together on a t-shirt. The whole school voted on the slogan ‘Kindness is the Key to Everything,” said Lipson.
“They wanted to create a t-shirt and the kids submitted different designs,” said Tidd. “A few came up with good ideas.” She added the fourth graders were instrumental in the design with Hayley Bressler being the “primary designer. I worked with them and photoshop to come up with the final look.”
“Mrs. Tidd helped us third graders tie dye the shirts,” said Gallagher.
Although only the ambassadors have a tie-dye shirt right now, “the idea is for everyone in the school to have one,” said Tidd, adding that she’ll be incorporating a tie dye class to get all the shirts colored green and blue. The green represents Kelso the Frog, who is the mascot behind many good decision-making lessons at Highview.
“Every shirt is different to resemble how every person is different,” said Beal.
As part of being an ambassador, the students will help their peers tie dye their shirts when they get them since ambassadors already have a shirt.
“They’ve been singing up a storm,” said Music Teacher Elaine Royal. “Music brings everyone together.”
Fourth Grader Jonathan Filatov came up with the idea to do a song and pair it with the Queen Song.
“Jonathan came back with the thoughts of a verse,” said Royal. “I fleshed out the words and kept his words for the refrain.
“During the meeting, I was thinking about “We are the Champions” because I really like that song, but instead of ‘Champions,’ ‘Caring Majority’ and instead of ‘Losers,’ ‘ Bullies,” said Filatov.
“Mrs. Royal helped us with the song a lot and it’ll help teach kids to stop bullying,” said Bach. “She’s a really good music teacher and she really inspires me. I like the song she wrote.
“Mrs. Royal is helping us with the song and playing the piano,” said Marsico. “Without her, we wouldn’t be able to do the song.”