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An Orange, a General and a Tornado walk into a school gymnasium

Oct. 5, 2018




Otto the Orange, the Herkimer General, Poland Tornado and Utica City soccer player pose with Poland students who won prizes


Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange, Herkimer College mascot General Herkimer and Utica City FC soccer player Nate Bourdeau pose for a photo with the Poland Tornadoes mascot and Poland Central School District students who won prizes from a drawing during the school’s pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





POLAND – Poland Central School District kicked off its Olweus Bullying Prevention Program for the school year, raised money for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, honored the school’s sports teams, welcomed some special guests and gave away prizes to students – all during an early release day of school.

During the Olweus kickoff to start the day, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson said the program aims to build upon the positive school culture. Students might not realize it now, but when they look back someday, they will appreciate where they went to school, he said.

“You should be proud of coming to school here at Poland,” Cuthbertson said. “This is a special place.”

Poland Central School District’s pep rallies always include a gymnasium full of students and staff wearing the school’s blue and orange colors, but this year’s pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5, had a little extra Orange.

Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange was a surprise guest at the pep rally along with Herkimer College mascot General Herkimer and Utica City FC soccer player Nate Bourdeau. The Poland Tornadoes mascot joined them to compete in a race and a rock, paper, scissors tournament with students. Bourdeau also competed in a soccer ball foot juggling competition with soccer players.

The pep rally – attended by students in kindergarten through 12th grade – included a performance by the cheerleading team and introductions of the cross country team and boys and girls soccer teams.

Each year’s pep rally also ties into raising money for a charity. This year’s charity is the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. Two donation boxes were placed in the school for students and staff to have the option to donate to, and dress-down days were conducted to collect donations from staff.

Because the schoolwide fundraising goal was reached through a focus on working together throughout the building to raise money, each student in kindergarten through 12th grade was entered into a drawing to win prizes. More than $1,000 worth of sports-related prizes were awarded such as a helmet, jerseys, tickets and more from Herkimer College, Utica College, Utica City FC and the Utica Comets.

The busy weekend at Poland additional includes the Homecoming Dance on Friday, Oct. 5, and the Poland Booster Club Fall Festival and Columbus Day Soccer Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7, at the Kuyahoora Valley Town Park.

The activities started off with the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program kickoff activities in the morning. Cuthbertson presented first to students in grades sixth grade to 12th grade and then to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

 During the first assembly, students were asked to work in groups of five to solve a challenge involving passing a ball. The first try resulted in a time of more than 24 seconds, but students were able to cut that down to fewer than 2 seconds.

When asked, students said the activity taught teamwork, strategy and the value of practice. Cuthbertson said it also showed that you can accomplish more than you think you can.

Cuthbertson compared the activity to class meetings that students would have later in the morning about the Olweus program.

“That’s what the class meetings are for – figuring it out together,” he said.

The Olweus program, which Poland has been involved in for several years, isn’t just about bullying, Cuthbertson said.

“The ultimate thing is how do we improve our climate and make our culture better,” he said.

Students in third grade through 12th grade took a survey during the day based around bullying and school culture.

During the second assembly – which featured a team-building activity involved hopping over hula hoops and competing in rock, paper, scissors – Cuthbertson spoke more about the climate or “vibe” of the school.

“When students walk through the door at Poland, we want them to feel safe, to feel secure, and we want them to think about learning because that’s what they’re here to do,” he said.

Cuthbertson said the Olweus program encourages students to be kind to others – such as helping a student who drops something in the hallway or telling a student who is bullying someone that it’s not right to do.

“Your character is what you do when people aren’t looking. That’s your true character,” he said. “This is what Olweus is all about.”




Poland principal and students in the gymnasium


Poland Central School District Principal Greg Cuthbertson speaks to students during the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program kickoff on
Friday, Oct. 5.





Students pass around a tennis ball


Poland Central School District students participate in an activity designed to show what can be accomplished when figuring things out together, during the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program kickoff on Friday, Oct. 5.





Students participate in a group activity in the gym


Poland Central School District students participate in an activity designed to show what can be accomplished when figuring things out together, during the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program kickoff on Friday, Oct. 5.





Poland cheerleaders performing with students lifting others into the air


Poland Central School District cheerleaders perform during the school’s pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Otto the Orange and the girls soccer team


Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange poses with the Poland Central School District girls soccer team during the Poland pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Utica City FC soccer player and two Poland soccer players juggling soccer balls with their feet


Utica City FC soccer player Nate Bourdeau participates in a soccer ball foot juggling competition with Poland soccer players during the school’s pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Otto the Orange during the pep rally


Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange makes an entrance during the Poland Central School District pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





The Herkimer General mascot with his hands up and out to the side


Herkimer College mascot General Herkimer makes an entrance during the Poland Central School District pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





The Poland Tornado mascot with its hands out to the side


The Poland Central School District Tornado mascot makes an entrance during the school’s pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Mascots racing during the pep rally


Herkimer College mascot General Herkimer, the Poland Central School District Tornado mascot and Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange race against each other and Utica City FC soccer player Nate Bourdeau during the Poland pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Otto the Orange running during the pep rally


Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange participates in a race during the Poland Central School District pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Poland Tornado mascot high-fives students


The Poland Central School District Tornado mascot entertains students in the stands during the school’s pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.





Otto the Orange high-fives students


Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange entertains students in the stands during the Poland Central School District pep rally on Friday, Oct. 5.