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Poland program’s annual launch features activities designed to build relationships

Sept. 30, 2019

 Students selecting apples to make caramel apples

Poland Central School District students participate in a group game on Friday, Sept. 27, in which they formed two circles and then pushed around a giant beach ball to try to catch groups of students with the ball. Students had to work together to effectively move the ball around as part of the 2019-20 launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

POLAND – Whether it was pushing around a giant beach ball, gathering the ingredients for making caramel apples, building sticks and marshmallows into a tower or dipping pieces of wood into blue, orange and white stain, there was one important aspect of everything Poland Central School District students did during their recent Olweus Bullying Prevention Program opening celebration: doing it together.

When you’re a member of a community and truly feel like you’re part of it, that’s when positive things such as learning can best get done, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson said, during his Olweus launch presentation to students.

That’s why a large focus of the annual introduction of the Olweus program was on building trust and relationships through group activities.

 “The work you’re doing today is just as important as any other day sitting in your classroom learning about math, about social studies,” he said. “I hope you participate with an open mind, but you also learn something new today.”

Poland’s Olweus Bullying Prevention Program launch for the 2019-20 school year took place on Friday, Sept. 27. Olweus is an anti-bullying and character education program that the school district has been participating in for several years.

The opening celebration included presentations by Cuthbertson, class meetings, relationship-building activities, team-building activities including competing in groups to make the tallest tower out of sticks and marshmallows, cooperative games such as pushing a giant beach ball around in a circle to catch other students with it, lunches with teachers, putting together caramel apple kits and students and staff writing their initials on pieces of wood and then staining the wood with school colors to be put together for a joint mosaic display.

Cuthbertson described the mosaic display with different colored pieces of wood as symbolic of all the different people at Poland coming together. The display is something that will last, he said.

“Really, what you’re building today is kind of a legacy,” he said.

Cuthbertson did one presentation for students in kindergarten to fifth grade and one for students in grades 6-12.

“Everybody has a right – teachers included – that they feel safe and that they are doing what they should be doing in school, which is learning,” he said.

But the Olweus program isn’t just about preventing bullying – it’s just as much about trust and positive relationships, Cuthbertson said.

“As far as our Olweus program, part of building trust is building relationships, and that’s what today is all about,” he said.

Students pushing a giant beach ball through the air

Poland Central School District students dip pieces of wood with their initials or names on them into stains of the school colors on Friday, Sept. 27, as part of the 2019-20 launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The pieces of wood will be used for a large mosaic display.

Students' hands dipping pieces of wood in blue, orange and white stain

Poland Central School District students pick up apples and pieces of caramel for their caramel apple kits on Friday, Sept. 27, as part of the 2019-20 launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

Principal Greg Cuthbertson speaking as elementary students look on

Poland Central School District Principal Greg Cuthbertson talks to elementary students on Friday, Sept. 27, as part of the 2019-20 launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.