By Horizon Honors High School Senior Anja Asato
Bullying is a common problem in schools, but Horizon Community Learning Center (HCLC) is combating this on a K-12 scale. HCLC has developed a sound sense of community based on the school values of learn, believe, dream, and dare. These programs have been successful in promoting a unique environment where students are able express their feelings, learn problem-solving skills, and discuss real-world situations. By addressing these issues early, students are able to keep these lessons with them as they advance through middle and high school.
Kindergarteners start with value talks and learn ways to vocalize their feelings instead of resorting to mean comments or crying. In elementary, students read age-appropriate books that incorporate themes like racism and gender roles.
The issue of bullying is addressed more specifically when students reach third grade, with a focus on the technological aspect. Students are given the skills to advocate for themselves and their peers first, then resort to teacher involvement.
Just one example of the success HCLC has had in forming a sense of community is the “Mix It Up” lunches for students grades first through sixth. During these lunches, students are assigned to sit with new people to encourage new friendships. Although students were hesitant at first, many have formed new connections. HCLC was named a “2013-2014 Mix It Up Model School” for school-wide enthusiasm for these lunches.
The sense of community is further expanded in middle and high school where students address problems of bullying. Beyond the Walls is a club which focuses on preventing bullying and educating the student body on ways to banish negativity and harassment. The club prepared a presentation called “Under the Radar,” which focused on subtle forms of bullying that often go unaddressed. Students also signed a Resolution of Respect, pledging to combat prejudice within themselves and others. Beyond the Walls plans on making HCLC an official “No Place For Hate” school by creating programs to educate peers on bullying prevention.
The school has gone further to address safety online and cyber bullying at the middle school and high school levels. Students participated in presentations throughout the year during scholastic lab classes to learn about safety when sharing information online and using social media.
Together, these programs have worked to promote a community of care, respect, acceptance, and awareness from elementary through high school.
Anja Asato is a senior at Horizon Honors and has been attending the school for the past seven years. She is Editor in Chief of “The Horizon Sun,” the school’s newspaper, and enjoys volunteering through Key Club and National Honor Society.