Galax schools to address bullying

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By April Wright, Reporter

Galax school officials plan to combat bullying by implementing a prevention program that would discuss the different issues associated with it, said interim superintendent Rebecca Cardwell at the Jan. 13 Galax School Board meeting.

Cardwell said faculty, staff and parents should not ignore students' opinions on the issue. As a result, students are being surveyed at Galax schools on the types of bullying — gang, racial, physical, verbal, cyberspace — they see.

Based on those surveys, school officials will determine topics and issues that will need to be discussed in classrooms. A group of Galax school faculty members have met three times to identify these challenges of bullying that have been seen in schools.

“K through 12 needs to be a focused effort,” Cardwell told the board. “A program in the schools will address those needs.”

The school board approved a resolution, noting that the Virginia School Boards Association recognizes January as VSBA Bullying Prevention Month.

The resolution states that almost 30 percent of the youth in the nation are estimated to be involved in bullying each year, either as a bully or as a victim. An estimated 160,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade miss school every day due to fear of being bullied, either verbally, physically, through cyberspace, or on and off school grounds.

It is important for Virginia parents, students, teachers and school administrators to be aware of bullying and to encourage discussion of the problem as a school community, the resolution said.

The VSBA has developed a model policy on anti-bullying to encourage positive behaviors and to eliminate bullying behaviors.

Results of the surveys are expected to be revealed at this month's school board meeting.

In other action the board:

• heard from Galax High School drama teacher B.J. Carroll, who discussed and recognized the drama department for taking second in the district, first at region and third in the state during theatre competitions for the students' performance in “The Diviners.”

Matt Hanks was also recognized for his performance at the regional level and was named best actor in the state. Hanks and Ben Chaffee performed a scene from the play for the board.

“We had a group of young actors, so that was intimidating for them,” said Carroll. Although the students were disappointed about coming in second at district, “they stepped it up, and put their noses to the grindstone.”

• heard from Randy Jones, architect of OWPR Inc., about the GHS renovation. Jones said the interior of GHS is 98 percent complete, and he expected most of the remaining two percent to be complete about a week after the meeting.

Date of substantial completion for the GHS renovation was Dec. 8.

Also, work on Galax Elementary School's new boiler system is being done.

A rededication ceremony is being planned.

• signed a resolution for Galax Superintendent Sam Cook, who retired in December 2008.

The resolution said Cook created a professional atmosphere of cooperation between school and community to provide the best possible education for the students of Galax. Cook succeeded in increasing and improving academic opportunities available to all students and served the Galax City Public Schools honorably, earnestly and professionally in a most ethical and competent manner.

The school board announced that Cook, who came in with this year's graduating class over 12 years ago and is now go out with them, will be the speaker for this year's graduation.