By Alyssa Weston
Bailee Wolanzyk, sophomore accounting and advertising/public relations major, is currently working with faculty at Howland Local School District to implement a new anti-bullying program called Stand UYSU Student Plans to Implement Anti-Bullying Program into Local School Districtp.
Wolanzyk, a Howland graduate, said she was inspired to create Stand Up by a recent bullying situation at the school.
“The situation was so out of control and not being handled properly and I knew something had to be done,” she said.
Wolanzyk said the business ethics class she is taking this semester has played a role in the creation of the program.
“The class has shown me a different way of looking at and handle certain situations in business. This also inspired me to research how students could find a different way to look at and handle bullying situations,” she said.
Wolanzyk said Stand Up is a program that begins with the high school students and trickles down to the middle and elementary level schools.
“The high school students plan, organize and partake in different events and activities that teaches younger grades proper SEL skills. SEL skills, or social and emotional learning, are basic skills that include recognizing and managing emotions, caring for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions and solving problems,” she said.
Wolanzyk said SEL skills help students to calm themselves, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully and make ethical and safe choices.
“The high school students will learn themselves the five goals of SEL (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making), then they will use their findings to set an example for the younger grades,” she said. “Ultimately, with the proper installation of SEL skills in younger students, they will go through school learning how to respect others and handle a bullying situation when it occurs.”
Wolanzyk said Howland is farthest along with implementing the program, but she knows students in in other local schools such as Niles, Hubbard, Boardman, Canfield, and Youngstown who are interested in expanding the program to their schools. Dr. Ken Jones, president of the Howland Board of Education, said he recognizes Bailee’s passion for anti-bullying and that he is always very proud of alumni that succeed and follow their passion.
Dr. Jones said Howland’s anti-bullying policy has several layers.
“The first part is a system of punishment that is very standardized. When the schools are made aware of a situation it can be efficiently handled. This is where [we need] ‘see something, say something.’ The school cannot assist if people are not notified,” he said. “The second part is a multi-tiered prevention program that is age specific.”
Dr. Jones said he doesn’t think that any one program is better than others, and that multiple levels gets to the heart of the issue.
Wolanzyk said starting Stand Up is important to her because she believes it will not only minimize the acts of bullying, but ultimately it will minimize the widespread tragedies that are created from bullying such as suicide and school shootings.