Rachel's Challenge, an anti-bullying program introduced last school year but couldn't find teachers to volunteer for this year, could return in force for the 2012-13 school year.
MJHS Principal Mike Rolinitis pitched the plan to the Parent/Teacher Advisory Committee Thursday night. He said the program instilled a lot of pride in the students who were able to participate last year, down to the student-signed banners in the hallways.
"I still see kids walk down the halls and point at their name," he said.
This school year, the district couldn't find teachers to volunteer to run the program.
"With the turmoil about the contract and all that, we didn't have a lot of volunteer things going on," Rolinitis said.
When the school introduced Rachel's Challenge in the 2010-11 school year, $3,800 bought an assembly for sixth graders, one for seventh and eighth graders also attended by St. Mary's students, an assembly for parents and training for Friends of Rachel, a club designed to keep activities going throughout the year.
Principal Chris Clavenna, who was instrumental in bringing the program to MJHS while she was an assistant principal there, said she couldn't believe the immediate response at the student assemblies.
During one, the speaker asked for the junior high students to walk up in front of the assembled student body and share their stories of bullying. He then set the microphone on the chair, sat down next to Clavenna and whispered, "This should take a few seconds," a concept Clavenna found laughable.
"I thought, 'Oh, it's not going to be a couple seconds. We're going to be waiting here five minutes with dead silence.' Within 20 seconds, the first girl came up and talked about her autistic cousin who got bullied," Clavenna said.
Rolinitis also said he found the students' thoughts powerful.
"One kid got up and said, 'I've been bullied before,' and another kid got up and said, 'I've been a bully before and I'm not going to do that anymore,'" Rolinitis said.
Rolinitis is looking to spend about $3,000 on the program for next year. He said at the Thursday night meeting that he had ordered a refresher kit earlier in the day.
Rolinitis and Clavenna said keeping the program going throughout the year with activities from the Friends of Rachel and Chain Links clubs is key to creating long-lasting effects among the students.
Principal Nancy Chibe agreed, citing her experience at a previous district that only paid for the video presentation the group offers.
"It was a neat thing, but it wore off," she said.