Wahiawa Students Take The Lead In Effort To Prevent Bullying

Students John Arvin Ines, Trenton Matsuda, Brigitte Doro, Angelica-Faye Rilveria, Joyce Usigan, Beatrice Chan, Joshua Ibarra and Charlene Ballera show off their positive message wristbands. Photo courtesy of Wahiawa Middle School.

Wahiawa Middle School has turned to its students to end bullying.

The Anti-Bully Squad (ABS) was created a year ago by then eighth-graders Shaylee Todani and Alisha Shavez, who saw a need and came up with a solution.

Their first idea was to use hall monitors to report bullying. They soon realized that more was needed.

“It was those two kids who really wanted to change the school,” said faculty adviser Thomas Lee. “They thought of all these ideas to try to promote tolerance and positive interaction between kids.”

The result was a comprehensive program that not only provides safe zones for students but also features guest speakers, assemblies and giveaways to promote safety and a positive self-image. ABS currently is led by president Charlene Ballera (seventh grade) and vice president Joyce Usigan (eighth grade).

The safe zones are classrooms where bullied students can get help or just hang out in a safe environment. Todani and Shavez recruited teachers to man the 12 safe zones. More safe zones are planned, many in areas where fights have occurred.

ABS members meet weekly with Lee, and monthly with administrators and the Wahiawa Parent Teacher Student Organization.

Among the students’ initiatives was creating “Wahiawa Compliments,” a web page where students can post positive messages about each other. Another was creating lanyards embossed with “Take a Stand, Lend a Hand” to encourage students to help each other.

“What the program did was start the conversation about bullying, what is bullying and what people can do about bullying,” said Lee.

The next big event is scheduled for October, which is designated as one of two Anti-Bullying Months, the other being April. To see what they are doing next, go to their website at wahiawamiddleptso.com/antibullying.