Students teaching students at Pink Shirt Day

Jodi Schellenberg
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Instead of teachers preaching the anti-bullying message, a group of older students stood up as role models.

In the morning, the students enjoyed a gym blast. In the afternoon they went to the presentations by the Carlton drama students.

During the Sask. Rivers School Division’s Day of Pink held at Carlton Comprehensive High School, the DV section of the drama club acted as peer teachers to about 450 Grades 4 to 6 students.

“It is a section of the drama club called DV, which is a group that originally started dealing with domestic violence -- they wrote a play a couple years ago,” drama teacher Dave Zulkoskey said. “From there, we have moved on to being an anti-bullying group.”

The group of 20 drama students went through the Red Cross RespectEd program to teach them how to put on anti-bullying presentations.

“These students … have been facilitating the discussions at this point,” Zulkoskey said.

He said having older students teach the younger students is a great way to spread the message.

“I have always believed that a teacher has a grasp on knowledge and information and is obviously able to teach but often times it is that connection you can get between the different age groups of children that can make all the difference,” Zulkoskey said.

“High school students are often viewed as being those senior students, very different, very adult like in many ways, so they can connect with he younger students because they are really young in the perspective of life,” he added. “But they (also) have that sense of maturity that they can help students in Grades 4 and 5 realize they can make a difference and be role models for them.”

John Schultz, Sask. Rivers' superintendent, agreed that having students teach each other can lead to great things.

“One of the things we like about it is we have some fun with the message but we also have the peers helping to work with each other,” Schultz said. “We think that peer teaching is a great way for students to learn.

“Of course we have adults that are heavily invested and work hard with the programs but the workshops this afternoon are student led and it is interesting seeing the interaction that takes place when you have a student in Grade 12 working with a student in Grade 7 or 8,” he added. “It is a unique way of giving that education.”

The student facilitators were excited to be helping spread the anti-bullying message.

“I thought it was good,” drama student Tiffany Brown said. “I thought it was a good way to really prevent lots of bullying for the future classes when they come to Carlton.” 

“It was also nice to see how many were actually comfortable with sharing stories and answering questions that we had,” drama student Christina Pfeil added.

Many of the younger students were willing to interact and asked questions if they didn’t understand part of the presentation.

“By the end we had them (interacting)” Brown said. “At the end, when we asked what they should do in different situations, they had really good answers that would be effective.”

“I had some of the kids come talk to me personally about some of the problems and it felt really good,” drama student Raven Dallman said.

Although they enjoyed spreading the anti-bullying message, the students wished this type of day would have been held when they were younger.

“I just kind of wish when I was back in the younger grades that I was able to do something like this instead of having to suffer with bullying for my whole life,” Dallman said.

Since the students have personally experienced bullying, they were all happy to help those younger than them.

“I wanted to (help) because my whole life I have been bullied and brought down to the point where I almost gave up,” Dallman said. “I don’t want that to happen to anymore kids because when I hear stories about teenagers committing suicide or when younger kids are doing that, it breaks my heart to know they didn’t get help they needed.”

Both Brown and Pfeil have younger siblings and don’t want to see them suffer through bullying either.

“I have a younger sister that is going to go through here and I know a lot of my friends have siblings and I want to make sure it is better for them when they go through it than what it was that I went through,” Brown said.

The students were helping build community with the schools in Prince Albert, in order to give back and build a stronger society, Zulkoskey said.

“Students are learning how to deal with bullying and in the process raise their self-esteem and make a difference in Prince Albert,” he said. “It has been a day full of excitement, a day full of energy.”

The program has never been done at such a large scale in the school division before, Zulkoskey said.

“Of course, there are a few little glitches and whatnot, but the overall feeling I have received from the teachers and students and just from walking around and checking on the different workshop groups is there is a great deal of enthusiasm,” Zulkoskey said. “I just popped into two groups and there is some very good discussion going -- students from Grade 4 and 5 are talking and being very honest about their situations.”

He believes the Day of Pink and having the older students being role models will help the younger kids.

“If we make a difference with one student, one student stops bullying, one student feels they can connect with an adult or another student to seek assistance, if we can get one bystander to take action and talk to an adult figure” it will make a difference, he said.

“The main thing is if a student is feeling bullied, they need to feel the confidence that they can talk to someone,” Zulkoskey added. “Sometimes it is by talking to a friend who will refer them to a teacher or administrator and they can get the help they need.”

Organizations: Rivers School Division, Carlton Comprehensive High School

Geographic location: Sask., Carlton

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