Character education is not new to the Hasbrouck Heights classrooms but the district is taking it one step further this new school year as it continues efforts to eliminate bullying from the schools.
Since last year school districts are now required to investigate all reported incidents of bullying as per state mandate and provide a report to the community two times a year.
(harassment, intimidation and bullying) in the past school year, which Superintendent Mark Porto says is “46 too many.”
As the new school year gets underway, will continue to educate students in order to prevent bullying with some of the same peer-led programs and groups as well working in some new curriculum into the classrooms, says Catherine Cassidy, vice principal for grades 6 to 12.
Among the new efforts the district is taking, Cassidy says a comprehensive curriculum known as Building Blocks which addresses harassment, intimidation and bullying with lessons and activities will be brought into social studies at the middle and high school. The goal behind Building Blocks is to bring awareness to the root of the behavior to prevent future incidents of bullying, she explained.
The district may also get some guidance in its anti-HIB efforts as it has been selected for the Princeton University Roots program, said Cassidy. The Roots program is an HIB and school climate improvement initiative. Through surveys, the program identifies student leaders who can help lead a program throughout the school to help spread anti-HIB behavior, according to the state Department of Education website.
Peer-led programs such as Heroes and Cool Kids will continue, Cassidy says. This program has high school students mentoring middle school students in important life skills such as sportsmanship, conflict resolution and positive lifestyle choices.
School staff will also continue to educate the students on what HIB really means, the difference between bullying and peer conflict, and to report incidents to their teachers.
Once again all the schools will take part in the Week of the Respect this October and a second will be offered in February, said Cassidy. Once school gets back in session, a schedule of assemblies and programs will be finalized by Barbara Christensen and Kerrie O’Hagan who spearhead these efforts, she explained.
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