A group of girls at Helke Elementary School in Vandalia finished their last few weeks of the school year by making posters and books with an anti-bullying theme to share with other classrooms.
Last school year, teacher Jesse McPeck started the Helke chapter of Girls on the Run, a national program that combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls.
The Helke chapter attracted 11 girls in its first year. When McPeck transferred to Demmitt Elementary School for this school year, special education aide Michele Catron picked up the leadership role at Helke.
“I worked with the program last year, and took it over as coach this year,” said Catron.
In addition to the coach, other staff members include Teresa Buttelwerth, Debbie Herbst, Julia Hulsmeyer, Lisa King and Libby Langston.
The girls meet two nights a week for two hours and there are now 28 members, said Catron.
“They have to do their own community project in the program, and the girls made bully-free posters and books for classroom use,” Catron said. “In their book, they wanted to teach other students about bullying and show them how to deal with it. They wrote the book, met with our principal for approval, then made them and distributed one to each classroom – they did it all.”
Lily Sergent, a third-grader, was enthusiastic about the topic of bullying, and helped instigate this year’s project.
“I’ve seen bullying a little bit and want kids to know how to respond to a bully and stop it,” she said. “When I was in kindergarten, a kid said I had an ugly face, so I just said ‘OK – I’ve got an ugly face’ instead of getting mad.”
After the words for the book were written, Lily and a friend handed out layout pages and each girl did different illustrations.
Demmitt’s chapter, with 14 members, cleaned the school grounds and did plantings for their community project.
Girls on the Run is open to 3rd-through-5th grade girls. In addition to covering various discussion topics, sessions included physical conditioning to prepare for the last big event of the year, a 5K race at Welcome Stadium run by chapters throughout the Dayton area on May 11.