While Greenwich High School's "Names Day" is an anti-bullying program for freshmen who are typically 14 or 15, a new workshop called "What Kids Wish Their Parents Knew" will be geared toward parents of elementary school and middle school children.
The JCC refers to the statistics of adolescent suicide – the third leading cause of death among Connecticut residents ages 15-19 as "staggering," and, in a release, described the untimely death of Greenwich High School student Bartlomeiej “Bart” Palosz (15) as "an urgent reminder that bullying, name calling and cyber-bullying are frequently associated with tragic consequences."
At Thursday's Board of Education meeting, GHS student government's Henry Ricciardi addressed bullying in the context of his peer's suicide on the first day of school.
"As students we have to make eye contact with a stranger between classes, reaching out to sit with someone we've never spoken to before, or to simply take an extra bit of time to ensure that everyone is included," said Ricciardi. "We must ask ourselves, 'Is there anything we missed? Is there anything else we could have done?'."
In his Superintendent's remarks, Dr. McKersie also reflected on the suicide. "We knew Bart. I can't go farther than that now, but we knew Bart," he said, adding that there is a lot of information about the boy dating back to his elementary school years.
"What's front and center in my mind is a Google page, that despite all our attention, kids saw it. Kids saw it but the adults didn't see it! So I want to find ways to make sure that that doesn't happen again. So we're going to look at that."
GHS senior, Alleyha Dannett, a Names Day team member and Patch blogger whose topics include bullying and self-esteem, described feeling heartbroken at the recent suicide.
"In times of mourning and crisis my peers promise to make those who are alone sit at their tables 'to feel welcome'," said Dannett. "And yet, in the next day or week or month, they'll go back to how they were before. Back to their comfy cliques and the ones left stranded before are left stranded once again. Only difference is it hurts more the second time."
At the workshop, Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, ADL’s Director of Education, will share her insights from working with young people across the state and explain how every child is involved in bullying through four key roles that people play in instances of bullying. She will be joined by a panel of area high school students who will share their experiences and respond to questions.
The free workshop is scheduled for Tues., Oct. 1st from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at Town Hall, 101 Field Point Rd. More information is available on the JCC website.