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Chenango Forks Elementary kicks off school year with character education program

The grey, cloudy day couldn’t keep the smiles off the students’ faces at Chenango Forks Elementary during the “Character Rocks!” event.

Each year, students participate in the Olweus Anti-Bullying Program, which promotes bullying prevention, steps to take when someone is being bullied and increasing positive peer relationships. This year the program includes additional character education activities to promote a sense of community and belonging for all students.

In previous years, classes would create a banner with an anti-bullying theme to decorate the halls of the CFE building. This year, CFE teachers and administrators wanted to dig a little deeper and put together an event that would have a lasting impact on the students.

The two-hour event included team-building exercises with the school physical education teachers, visor decorating, banner signing courtesy of LifeTouch, class meetings, dancing and a picnic.

In the team-building exercises, students played a variety of games to strengthen interpersonal relationships by working together to compete against other classes in their grade-level. This included using problem-solving skills and good sportsmanship.

Foam visors were available for students to color and decorate to their liking, thanks to the district-based BOCES classrooms. The banner, reading “Stand Up, Stand Strong, Stand Together, Character Rocks!” was available for all students and staff to sign as a pledge to promote positive relationships and help stop bullying. The banner will be displayed by the art and music classrooms.

The class meetings were also an important part of the day’s event. In the meetings, teachers held grade-level-appropriate meetings to discuss bullying and positive character development. Students discussed what bullying was, what to do if you, or someone you know, is bullied and ways to be kind toward fellow students. Each grade level also had an activity during their class meeting that promoted a sense of community and good character development.

“Talking about and learning how to handle being bullied or seeing someone being bullied is extremely important; it seemed natural to complement this goal with building a community of caring citizens,” said CFE teacher Laurelin Janda. “When our students develop and talk about skills such as honesty, caring, respect, courage, empathy, generosity, etc. it only makes sense that we will see a decrease in students being unkind to others. In addition this empowers, and gives our students what they need in order to follow our school rules.”

Going forward, students will have bi-weekly classroom meetings to discuss teamwork and character development, along with hands-on activities to reinforce the lessons.

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