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Many School Activities Set
for Safe Schools Week Oct. 20-26

By Ralph Derickson

 

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"National studies prove that schools are safe places to be. Kentucky teachers and administrators make every effort to create caring environments for their students throughout the Commonwealth, but there is more that needs to be done."

-- Doris Settles,
clearinghouse coordinator,
Kentucky Center for School Safety

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Oct. 21, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- Students who feel safe are free to learn. This is apparent every day in Kentucky classrooms where our educators work hard to make sure "no child is left behind," said Doris Settles, Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS) clearinghouse coordinator.

But they can't do it alone, added Settles, who coordinates the clearinghouse on the University of Kentucky campus. The KCSS clearinghouse is coordinating Kentucky's Safe Schools Week.

Safe Schools Week, set for Oct. 20-26, is a time for students, parents, educators and community members to join and acknowledge that "safe schools begin with me," Settles commented.

Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton recently proclaimed Safe Schools Week, and KET Star Channel 703 rebroadcast the proclamation event for schools to tape and air at their discretion. Dates and times are available at www.kysafeschools.org. In the broadcast, Gov. Patton, with Kentucky public school students and other dignitaries, signs and recites a pledge against school violence that acknowledges the role each of us play in preventing violence in schools.

The pledge asks community members, parents, educators and students alike to make the following commitments:

-- Understand that guns have no place in school or in disputes;

-- Refuse to participate in or tolerate bullying or violent behaviors; and

-- Have the courage to break the code of silence.

"National studies prove that schools are safe places to be," Settles said. "Kentucky teachers and administrators make every effort to create caring environments for their students throughout the Commonwealth, but there is more that needs to be done. The KCSS encourages all citizens of the Commonwealth to come together and focus on awareness, prevention and cooperation during the 2002 Kentucky Safe Schools Week."

Involving youth in prevention efforts is a crucial piece of the school safety puzzle. To create youth-led community events, the KCSS is again collaborating with the state's 195 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapters with more than 9,800 student members.

In 1999, FCCLA implemented a national program, STOP the Violence, which focuses on teaching awareness and preventing violence in schools.

Local FCCLA chapters will collaborate with community organizations and schools at all levels to implement community events. "At the elementary schools, we will set up a booth during the PTO Parents' Night so students can sign the anti-violence pledges with their parents," said Alisha Perry, president of the Crittenden County High School FCCLA Chapter. These events focus on creating a positive, proactive response to safe school issues. Events sponsored by FCCLA chapters reflect originality and commitment:

-- Morton Middle School in Fayette County is focusing on anti-bullying activities with an assembly, ribbons and pledges, and "Random Acts of Kindness" rewards;

-- Campbell County is passing out "hug" candies, reminding them to give "hugs" instead of "hurts;"

-- Safe Schools Week in Caverna Independent will focus on a different theme each day: Patriotic Day, Pledge Against Violence Day, Blue Ribbon Day, Salute Law Enforcement Day (by presenting them with a certificate of appreciation and baked goods), School Spirit Day, and culminating with Saturday Family Day (families are encouraged to plan a fun activity together);

-- McLean, Fleming, Magoffin and Caverna Independent Schools are collaborating with their local newspapers to distribute a tabloid with advice and information about safe and effective schools; and

-- Pledge Dances, Community Forums, Peace Gardens and many other innovative events.

"Maybe just one life was saved, one injury prevented or one thought of violence never conceived by the small deeds of awareness during Safe Schools Week," said Kelly Freels, a member of the McLean County High School FCCLA Chapter. "The KCSS applauds the efforts of individuals and districts that make Kentucky schools safe learning environments."

Kentucky's observance of Safe Schools Week complements a national campaign sponsored by the National School Safety Center. The national pledge against gun violence week also corresponds with the Safe Schools Week in Kentucky.

For more information, visit www.kysafeschools.org.


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