Wednesday December 05, 2012
Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca recently appointed three additional student representatives to the Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying Prevention Advisory Council. Two of the three are South Burlington students Justin Lambert and Leah Soule.
“One of the top priorities for the council is to develop student leadership programs that support anti-bullying,” said Commissioner Vilaseca. “We want to ensure that our schools are safe, and hearing directly from the students is the best way to make that happen.”
Leah Soule, who is a senior at Big Picture (a school within SBHS focused on independent learning through projects, college classes, and internships) has been very interested and active in the issue of bullying and harassment since the beginning of middle school. She has been involved in programs designed to improve school climate as a member of the South Burlington High School Climate Committee which focuses on making sure the school community feels welcomed, connected, and safe in school.
“I became involved in the anti-bullying and harassment council through my teacher, Christine Lundie. She presented the option for the students of Big Picture to send in a paragraph to describe what we could bring to the council. (The reason why this option was presented more specifically to Big Picture students is because our schedule allows more flexibility for the 3 hour meetings with the council every few months)” Soule said.
Justin Lambert is a junior at Big Picture. He has a passion for neuroscience and has found that Big Picture compliments his learning style and empowers him (and all students) to design an individualized curriculum. He brings an interesting point of view to the table, having been both the bully and the victim. Justin believes that looking through multiple lenses is key.
“We had our first meeting on October 24th, 2012 in Springfield, Vermont. Justin and I could not attend in person because of distance but we, along with a few other students from other schools, joined electronically via webcam. Our next meeting is in January and will most likely be held in South Burlington” Soule said. “Within the council, we divided into groups with specific topics that are key aspects of the anti-bullying and harassment movement in Vermont. Justin and I are in the “Student Leadership” group along with the other two students and a few adults as well. Currently we are focusing on alternative approaches to preventing and dealing with bullying and harassment. In our previous meeting we came to the conclusion that strengthening a school community will prevent bullying and harassment from happening in the first place. We also discussed alternative consequences that would better address the underlying issues of the bullying student instead of his/her outward behavior.”
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent