OAKLAND — Every student and staff member at Oakland Elementary School on Monday wore a blue shirt with the saying, “I am a buddy. What’s your superpower?” surrounding a big “S” on the front, similar to the Superman logo, in honor of the World Day of Bullying Prevention.
In addition to wearing new shirts, students also participated in a special half-hour lesson in the library where volunteer Jenny Gibbs read them the book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?”
The book explains that each person has an invisible bucket. Kindness fills the bucket of the person you are kind to, as well as your own. Being mean takes away from someone’s bucket and doesn’t make the mean person feel better either.
“A smile is a great clue you have filled someone’s bucket,” a line in the book reads.
Students then participated in a role-playing exercise with volunteer Windy Brooksby. She told them of different scenarios and what they could do to fill that person’s bucket.
In one of the scenarios, a first grader offered to drive the school bus if she saw the bus driver was having a bad day. Others were more realistic, and offered a hug or kind words.
Brooksby would use a clear beach ball filled with confetti to engage students in their responses, a nod to a poster hanging in the hallway that reads: “Spread kindness like confetti.”
Toward the end of the lesson in the library, students wrote down something nice they could do for another person. These were collected and attached to a poster, which will hang in each classroom.
“I can help them and play with them and do stuff like that,” kindergartner Bryson Reed said.
Kindergartner Finnegan Gifford said he plays with friends to make them feel better.
Librarian Connie Knox, Brooksby and Gibbs helped students during the exercise.
“We will be a school of bucket fillers,” Brooksby said. “We’ll use happy words, kind thoughts and kind actions.”
Each year the school participates in anti-bullying lessons in October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Brooksby has worked on anti-bullying lessons since she moved to Oakland seven years ago, but teacher Tameka Olsen started a program a few years before Brooksby arrived.
Although the national campaign is called STOMP Out Bullying, organizers at the elementary school found that to have a negative connotation and decided instead to focus on building friendships and promoting kindness.
Kindergartner Oakley Roeder said the exercise was pretty good and that she hasn’t seen any bullies at the school yet.
Brooksby said one of the posters at the middle school reads, “Calling someone ugly, doesn’t make you pretty.” She said it was more age-appropriate for middle schoolers, while still letting students know that being mean doesn’t make you feel better.
Every student and staff member in the school lined up for a photo with the high school mascot in the gymnasium and told the organizers, “Thank you.”