Students talk

Older students mentor peers

By: Annalee Grant
Reporter, Cranbrook Daily Townsman

A group of leadership students at Mount Baker Secondary School have taken
their life lessons on bullying to their younger peers in middle school, hoping to dispel
some fears about the transition into high school.

What they quickly realized, is there is a lot of misinformation passed among middle
school students and bullying is taking place between students.

“It’s most definitely something that’s going on,” said Catherine Cameron, one of the
Mount Baker students who delivered the presentation.

The presentation gave the younger students a chance to hear straight from the source,
and get some crucial facts on bullying and how to deal with it from RCMP Const. Lisa
Schlatter from the Cranbrook RCMP detachment. The Mount Baker leadership students
will be delivering the presentation to more students at Laurie Middle School in March
after the success of the first round.

Landon Harvey, one of the presenters, said bullying has to be taken seriously.

“I learned that there is this stuff going on in middle school,” he said. “It’s serious. It’s not
just a joke. It’s really something that needs to be dealt with.”

Landon and Catherine were two of five students that participated. The other three were
Kya Sherret, Malorie Balfour and Melissa Von Wittgenstein. They were approached by
Laurie Middle School counselor Chris Olson to speak with Grade 9 students in place
of the GREAT and BLAST programs which will not be running this year. GREAT and
BLAST are programs that help girls and boys individually with the transition into high
school.

“Bullying effects everyone,” Catherine said. “We just wanted to increase the awareness.”

After working with Olson and staff at Laurie to develop an outline, the students put
together a presentation that delivered a message of hope to their younger peers. They
were joined by Const. Schlatter, who addressed the legal concerns that can arise from
bullying. The aim was to create a safe and supportive environment so that the younger
students felt comfortable talking about tough issues.

Catherine and Landon, both in Grade 11, said they spent the first part of the presentation
engaging their audience, then moved into bullying issues. Towards the end, the high

school students took anonymous questions that were placed in what they called “the
happy box”. Some of the questions raised were surprising, and many dealt with what life
is like at Mount Baker.

“It wasn’t a shock, because we were in Grade 9 once too,” Landon said. “We knew what
they were feeling. They know they’ll be in our shoes in two years.”

When Const. Schlatter spoke about the legal ramifications of bullying, Catherine said the
audience was stunned.

“You could literally hear pins drop,” she said.

Landon and Catherine said they told the students everything they wanted to know, with
no holds barred.

“We were completely honest,” Landon said. “We just told them it does get better than
middle school.”

The younger students asked questions about Mount Baker, and wondered if they would
get lost in the halls. Catherine said they hope to greet the new students and show them
around when they arrive in Grade 10 next year. The middle school students worried
about hazing, but Landon, Catherine and the group were able to dispel the fear that new
students attract bullies.

“In high school, usually everyone does find their groups,” Landon said. “You can be who
you are, and you will find people like you.”

While middle school is a time of transition for students, and often some don’t find their
true group of friends, Catherine said she has found high school different.

“I don’t feel intimidated at all anymore,” Catherine said.

Catherine and Landon said they are happy to have imparted their experience onto the
younger students and hope it helped. They did their best to leave a positive spin on the
heavy issues they talked about.

“They weren’t left with this horrible feeling,” Catherine said.

Landon believes that by keeping the conversation going, they are helping kids gain the
courage to speak up about their experience. The presentation helped many realize they
weren’t alone.

“You could see when we were doing the presentation who it’s happened to by the look
on their faces,” Landon said. “We can tell it’s more than just one person in the classroom.
They don’t know if it’s happening to someone else because that person is keeping it to
themselves.”

By sharing what is going on, Catherine said it’s easier for kids to access the help they
need.

“It makes it easier to help people and find out why it’s happening,” she said.

Speaking up about bullying was a great opportunity, and further brings the issue into the
public eye, but Catherine doesn’t believe there will ever be a world without it.

“I don’t think bullying is a problem that can ever be fully erased.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: